01/19/2013 4:09PM

Gulfstream Park: Regalo Mia rallies to win Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Regalo Mia (left) rallies in the stretch to win the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf over Hooh Why and Romacaca.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Regalo Mia overcame a wide trip and a relatively paceless race, rallying from last to a three-quarter-length victory over defending champion Hooh Why in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf.

Romacaca, the 4-5 favorite, finished a tiring third.

The victory was just the second lifetime, and first stakes, success for Regalo Mia, a 4-year-old daughter of Sligo Bay who is owned by Steven Cicarone and trained by Michelle Nihei. Regalo Mia, who was graded stakes-placed three times at 3, missed five months of her 2012 campaign after contracting pneumonia while in California last summer for the Grade 1 American Oaks.

With the scratch of Speak Easy Gal, Romacaca set the pace as expected, with jockey Javier Castellano content to allow Regalo Mia to relax at the rear of the field for the opening six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile Filly and Mare Turf. Regalo Mia began her rally on the second turn, came four wide around the leaders to join for command entering the stretch, and edged away from Hooh Why through the final sixteenth.

Hooh Why stalked the pace throughout, overtook Romacaca in early stretch, but was no match for the winner.

Regalo Mia completed the distance in 1:52.39 over a yielding course and paid $7.20.

“You just have to throw her last race out, it was just unusual conditions at Churchill Downs and it wasn’t our day,” Nihei said. “There’s no question she’s back to where she was before she got sick last year. You can’t run outside all these horses at a mile and one eighth under these conditions and not be okay. We knew we had a nice filly the way she came in as a 2-year-old, we’ve always been compromised by her size, but she runs with so much heart.”