03/04/2017 4:16PM

Celestine delivers for new connections in Sand Springs Stakes

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Celestine scores a two-length victory under Jose Ortiz in the Sand Springs.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Celestine looked like a million, maybe even $2.55 million, when winning her first start for her new connections on Saturday in the $100,000 Sand Springs Stakes for older female turf milers at Gulfstream Park.

Celestine had an accomplished career for trainer Bill Mott, then was sold at auction last November at Keeneland and acquired by Moyglare Stud for $2.55 million. She was turned over to trainer Christophe Clement, who is friends and neighbors with Mott at Payson Park and Saratoga, and was kept in training at age 5, with the Sand Springs the first start of her 2017 campaign.

It was not an easy spot for an ungraded stakes, for the highly accomplished Catch a Glimpse, a two-time Grade 1 winner, was among her rivals. Catch a Glimpse tried mightily to put pressure on Celestine around the final turn and into the lane, but Celestine kept the lead and then pulled away in deep stretch for a two-length victory under Jose Ortiz.

Catch a Glimpse was second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Lori’s Store.

Celestine was timed in 1:34.59 for one mile on firm turf, with a swift final quarter in 22.68 seconds following an easy opening six furlongs in 1:11.91.

The win was the seventh in 15 starts for Celestine, a daughter of Scat Daddy best known for winning the Grade 1 Just a Game on the Belmont Stakes undercard last June. The Sand Springs was her first start since the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, in which she finished 12th of 14.

“She came to us in great shape from Bill,” Clement said. “You get a 5-year-old from Bill Mott, they’re going to be OK.”

Clement said Moyglare’s play with Celestine is to buy “top-class mares in America with speed who can be taken to Europe to be bred” at the end of their careers.

Clement said Celestine would make her next start at Gulfstream in the Grade 2, $300,000 Honey Fox Stakes at one mile on turf April 1, the same day as the Florida Derby.