Sandiva Eyes Suwannee River Handicap Repeat
Feb 8, 2017
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Al Shaqab Racing’s Sandiva captured the 2015 edition of the Suwannee River Handicap and would have been the likely favorite in last year’s running had she been entered.
But her connections opted to go another way, and tried her on the dirt in the Royal Delta (G2), one week after the Suwannee River was run. The daughter of Footstepsinthesand ran well, finishing second, but the dirt experiment was concluded with that race, and the mare was returned to the turf for all her subsequent starts.
Now the Todd Pletcher-trained Sandiva enters the 69th running of the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3), a nine-furlong turf race for older fillies and mares, following her second consecutive victory in the Marshua’s River (G3).
Six-year-old Sandiva, the 121-pound high weight, is among 10 fillies and mares entered in the 69th running of the Suwannee River this Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
A Group 3 winner as a 2-year-old in England, where she began her career, Sandiva will likely be making her final start in the Suwannee River before being bred to 2016 Donn Handicap (G1) winner Mshawish.
“She’s just in such good form at the moment and training so enthusiastically,” Pletcher said. “She really seems to have an affinity for Gulfstream’s turf course — she always runs well here and seems to be a filly that peaks at this time of the year.”
Javier Castellano has the mount on Sandiva, who drew post 6.
Chad Brown, who won this race twice before, including last year with Tammy the Torpedo, has entered multiple graded stakes winner Goldy Espony and Elysea’s World. The former hasn’t competed since winning the La Prevoyante (G3) at Gulfstream Park in 2015.
Elysea’s World, who is seeking her first stakes win, was impressive in winning an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park Dec. 29. That race was her first start since Sept. 17 when she checked in sixth in the Sands Point (G2) at Belmont Park.
“We were very high on her the first half of the year last year and then she tailed off and I really couldn’t explain it,” Brown said of Elysea’s World. “I just stopped on her for a little while and let her catch her breath. I think the time off did her good. She came back, bigger and stronger, and is working well again and ran well.”
Florent Geroux, who comes in from the Fair Grounds to ride the Brown-trained Beach Patrol in Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), has the mount on Goldy Espony from post 9. Joel Rosario is partnered with Elysea’s World, who drew the 5 post.
Jump Sucker Stable’s Sea Coast finished a sharp second to Sandiva in the 2016 Marshua’s River. Hailing from the barn of Christophe Clement, who seeks his fifth win in this race, Sea Coast is looking for her first graded stakes win. She also ran a solid race to finish second in the My Charmer Handicap (G3) behind the Pletcher-trained Isabella Sings in November at Gulftream Park West.
The Marshua’s River’s fourth-place finisher, Dickinson, was taking a step up in class that day, and was beaten just 1 1/2 lengths for the lion’s share of the purse.
Rounding out the field is Cali Thirty Seven, My Sweet Girl, Puca, Sharp Kitty and Temple Fur.