06/07/2013 3:46PM

Belmont Park: Royal Lahaina upsets Mariensky Stakes over a sloppy, sealed track

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Katherine A. Turnbull
Royal Lahaina pulls away late in the Mariensky Stakes under jockey Jose Ortiz.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Royal Lahaina, the longest shot on the board, came from just off the pace and then out-battled Sure Route down the stretch to win the $100,000 Mariensky Stakes on a sloppy, sealed track on Friday at Belmont Park.

The Mariensky, at 1 1/16 miles, was originally scheduled for turf, but was moved to the main track because of the steady rain that fell all day Friday, and was growing heavier as the Mariensky was run. Three were scratched, leaving a field of six. Royal Lahaina ($26.40) was dismissed at 12-1, but prevailed in a race where the two strongest betting choices, 6-5 favorite Natalie Victoria and 9-5 Sea Island, both finished out of the money.

Royal Lahaina, under Jose Ortiz, came wide into the lane, while Sure Route slipped through along the inside under Junior Alvarado. They were alongside one another until inside the sixteenth pole, and then Royal Lahaina gradually drew away late to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Peace Preserver was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third. Natalie Victoria, who shot clear by 3 1/2 lengths in the opening quarter-mile, tired to finish fourth.

Royal Lahaina was timed in 1:42.79.

“I had a perfect trip, a clean trip,” Ortiz said. “When I saw Alvarado inside, I tried to intimidate his horse a little bit, come close, but no foul.”

Rudy Rodriguez trains Royal Lahaina for owner James Riccio. Now 5, Royal Lahaina has won six times in 21 starts. She has won four of her last five starts, the lone loss a distant fifth-place finish in the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne in her most recent start on April 20.

Sea Island, second in the DuPont Distaff at Pimlico on May 18, was near the back throughout and never rallied, finishing last.

“She was fine going to the three-eighths, but past the five-sixteenths, she wasn’t going forward,” said Joel Rosario, who rode Sea Island. “Maybe it was the track, too muddy.”