Lewis Bay, Curlin's Approval Set for Rematch in Royal Delta Stakes

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February 16th, 2018

Five graded stakes winners are among the eight fillies and mares that have been entered to run in Monday’s $200,000 Royal Delta Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, the featured race on the Presidents’ Day card.

Leading the charge is Lewis Bay, an accomplished five-year-old from the barn of trainer . The daughter of Bernardini might be best known for finishing third in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and second in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) that same year, but though she has yet to break through at the Grade 1 winner, she has won four graded stakes races overall and recently returned from a 13-month layoff to win the December 16th Rampart Stakes (gr. III) in gate-to-wire fashion.

That effort has stamped Lewis Bay as the filly to beat, though the Rampart runner-up Curlin’s Approval also warrants respect. Trained by Happy Alter, Curlin’s Approval was beaten just 1 ¼ lengths in the Rampart after battling with Lewis Bay from start to finish, and she maintained her good form when second by less than a length in the seven-furlong Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III) last month despite racing close to a fast early pace.

But if anyone can upset Lewis Bay, it’s probably Unbridled Mo, who has won six of her last seven starts for trainer , including back-to-back wins in the Houston Ladies’ Classic Stakes (gr. III) at Sam Houston and the Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. Unbridled Mo hasn’t run since last April, but Pletcher does well at Gulfstream with horses returning from long layoffs, and if Unbridled Mo can recapture her best form, she’ll be in the mix with Javier Castellano in the saddle.

Verve’s Tale won Aqueduct’s Comely Stakes (gr. III) in November 2016 and subsequently endured a consistent but somewhat frustrating 2017 campaign—she cracked the superfecta in seven of her eight starts, but her lone victory came in the restricted Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga. However, she ended the year with strong efforts in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) and Go For Wand Handicap (gr. III) in New York and is a candidate to finish on the board again.

Giulia hasn’t run since October 2016, but the six-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa was a Grade 1 winner against males in Uruguay and adds intrigue to the race while making her U.S. debut for trainer Michael Matz. Martini Glass, runner-up in two Grade 1 races last year; the stakes winner Tapa  Tapa Tapa; and the stakes winner Surprise Wedding round out the field.

Post time for the Royal Delta is 5:16 p.m. Eastern.