03/29/2015 5:30PM

Celestine handles route in Sanibel Island

Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Celestine, making her first start against winners, captures the Sanibel Island Handicap under Rajiv Maragh.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Celestine proved she was more than just a turf sprinter when stretching out to a mile to register a convincing 3 1/4-length victory over the 3-5 favorite Isabella Sings in Sunday’s $75,000 Sanibel Island Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.

Celestine, a daughter of Scat Daddy, was guided to victory by Rajiv Maragh, who arrived in south Florida just two hours before the race after making the long flight back from Dubai, where he rode Main Sequence in Saturday’s Sheema Classic.

Celestine was making her stakes debut off a five-furlong maiden win on turf four weeks earlier and a very impressive work over grass here last weekend.  She outsprinted Isabella Sings to the lead in the run to the clubhouse turn, relinquished the advantage briefly midway down the backstretch while under confident handling by Maragh, reclaimed the lead before six furlongs, and then steadily increased her advantage through the stretch.

Isabella Sings fought back gamely along the rail to finish second, a neck in front of Miss Margaret. All in Fun, Flying Tipat, and Angela Falls completed the order of finish.

Celestine, who is owned by Phaedrus Flights LLC and trained by Bill Kaplan, paid $18.80. She ran the mile in 1:35.60.

“She’s a very fast filly and she loves the turf,” said Kaplan. “She trained beautifully for this race. She showed me that morning she could go long.   She’s going to move up in class next, maybe a graded stakes, but I think she can handle it.”