03/30/2013 4:40PM

Gulfstream Park: Regalo Mia makes up for past frustration with powerful Orchid victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Luis Contreras guides Regalo Mia to a two-length victory in the Grade 3 Orchid.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In a span of 10 weeks, Regalo Mia has wiped away a year marred by bad beats and bad health.

Powering down the center of what is left of the Gulfstream Park turf course, Regalo Mia bounded home a two-length winner of Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Orchid Stakes. It was her second straight victory here, having won the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January.

 Angegreen rallied from last to nose out Irish Mission for second. Anjaz was fourth followed by Starformer, Seanchai, Aigue Marine, Game Fair, Tree Hugger, and Closing Range.

 Regalo Mia, a daughter of Sligo Bay, has won three races in her career, all at Gulfstream Park.

 Regalo Mia did not win a race as a 3-year-old, losing three graded stakes by a neck, a neck, and a nose. She missed the entire summer after developing pneumonia following a ship to Southern California for the American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park.

 Michelle Nihei, who trains Regalo Mia for Steven Ciccarone, said the two wins at this meet have helped make up for last year’s disappointments.

 “Enormously,” Nihei said. “It was huge. She was small anyway. The maturity helped her.”

 Nihei said she was confident that Regalo Mia could get marathon distances such as the 1 1/2 miles of the Orchid, but she couldn’t find races for her at the distance last year.

 “Her running style allows her to do so much because she’s rideable,” Nihei said. “She’s the kind of horse that likes to take her time. She doesn’t need to be rushed. Anything at a mile and an eighth or more was going to suit her perfectly.”

 Luis Contreras was confident that Regalo Mia could get the distance after he worked her five furlongs at Palm Meadows on March 23. He said he couldn’t pull her up.

Saturday, Regalo Mia broke well and settled into fifth along the inside as Closing Range set the pace chased by Game Fair, Seanchai, and Starformer.

 Approaching the top of the lane, Contreras swung Regalo Mia out to the center of the course, and she closed powerfully to get the win.

 Regalo Mia covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:23.48 and returned $19.40 to win.

 “She kicked very hard at the end. She was so nice and relaxed pretty much all the way,” Contreras said. “I was in a great position behind the leaders. At the time I asked her at the quarter pole she just exploded.”

 Nihei said that she would keep Regalo Mia at marathon distances and may look at the Bewitch at Keeneland on April 25.