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Gulfstream Park: Aigue Marine, Starformer clash again in Orchid
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Aigue Marine, beaten less than a length by Starformer when the pair met for the first time last fall in the Long Island Handicap, could be primed to turn the tables when the two long-winded fillies square off again in Saturday’s $150,000 Orchid at Gulfstream Park.
Aigue Marine, an English-bred daughter of the Irish-bred sire Galileo, finished third making her U.S. bow in the Grade 3 Long Island decided over a soft course at Aqueduct. Aigue Marine was sent to trainer Christophe Clement by his brother Nicolas, who had raced the filly at 2 and for the majority of her 3-year-old season in France.
Aigue Marine took four months off before returning here March 7 to register an impressive four-length win going 1 3/8 miles over a firm course. She will stretch back out to 1 1/2 miles for the Orchid.
“She’ll be running back a little quick. I wish I had another week, and obviously Billy Mott’s filly [Starformer] will be the favorite and one to beat,” Clement said. “She ran a good race to Starformer, finished well but a bit too late, the first time they met. Jose [Lezcano] knows the filly well after riding her the other day. He’ll have the freedom to ride her the way he wants on Saturday, and she’ll be comfortable wherever she winds up.”
Starformer also got some time off after leading throughout before lasting for a neck victory over Mystical Star in the Long Island for her third win and second graded stakes tally in 2012. She returned fit and ready to run to open the current season when she parlayed a perfect trip into an easy 3 1/4-length triumph in the Grade 3 The Very One here Feb. 16.
Rajiv Maragh will replace regular rider Edgar Prado, who will be at Fair Grounds on Saturday, aboard Starformer in the Orchid.
Seanchai set the pace before fading to finish fourth in The Very One, but trainer Todd Pletcher feels she will carry her speed a lot farther despite the added distance in the Orchid.
“I thought she ran really well the time before her last start,” Pletcher said. “She caught soft ground in The Very One, and Javier [Castellano] didn’t feel she was quite as effective over it as she is over firmer ground, which she should get this time.”
Regalo Mia overcame a wide trip to win the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf while making just her third start since posting three straight graded stakes placings early last year. She will stretch out beyond 1 1/8 miles for the first time.
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