Starformer a Star Performer in Orchid Stakes
Juddmonte Farms’ Starformer has been a star performer at Gulfstream Park and is scheduled to seek her second-straight stakes score Saturday in the $150,000 Orchid (G3) on the undercard of the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1).
The Bill Mott-trained 5-year-old mare, who made an auspicious 2013 debut on Feb. 16 with a dominating 3 ¾-length triumph in the $100,000 The Very One (G3), was among 10 fillies and mare entered Wednesday for the 1 ½-mile turf stakes.
The daughter of Dynaformer, who had concluded her 2012 season with a victory at Aqueduct in the Long Island Handicap (G3) on Nov. 10, has run on ‘good’ and ‘soft’ courses in her last two starts, but she doesn’t need give in the ground to perform at her best. In her previous start at Gulfstream in February 2012, Starformer zipped over a firm course to win an allowance by three lengths before winning the R.G. Dick Memorial (G3) over a firm Delaware course by three lengths in July.
"She came to us as a 3-year-old and was a little disappointing running in her first few races for us at a mile or a little more," Mott said. "She seemed to get in trouble. After that we stretched her out to 11 furlongs or more and she seems to like that a lot better."
Mott, who will be in Dubai to saddle champion Royal Delta in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, has named Rajiv Maragh to ride Starformer.
Robert S. Evans’ Irish Mission, a winner of a Canadian Triple Crown event against the boys last year, will also be making her second start of the 2013 season. The Mark Frostad-trained 4-year-old filly stumbled at the start of an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream on Feb. 28 but recovered to finish second.
Last year, the daughter of Giant’s Causeway followed up a victory in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks with a runner-up finish in the $1 million Queen’s Plate on a synthetic Woodbine surface. After a failed attempt on dirt in the second-leg of the Triple Crown in the Prince of Wales, Irish Mission moved to Woodbine turf to capture the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes at the 1 ½-mile distance of the Orchid.
John Velazquez has the mount aboard Irish Mission.
Regalo Mia will be making her second start of the year after capturing the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream with a late-closing performance on Jan. 19. The Michelle Nihei-trained Florida-bred 4-year-old will seek her first graded-stakes score in the Orchid after being graded-stakes placed three times last season.
Luis Contreras will ride the daughter of Sligo Bay for the first time.
Trainer Graham Motion, who will also be in Dubai on Saturday to saddle Animal Kingdom for the $10 million World Cup, entered two horses for the Orchid, including Angegreen, an Italian import who closed well to finish second behind Starformer in the The Very One. Joe Rocco Jr. has been named to ride the filly owned by Team Valor International and Robert LaPenta. Game Fair, who finished far back in the The Very One, will be ridden by Alan Garcia.
Rounding out the field for the Orchid are: Closing Range (Elvis Trujillo), Anjaz (Irad Ortiz, Jr.), Seanchai (Rosie Napravnik), Aigue Marine (Jose Lezcano) and Tree Hugger (Jesse Sanchez).