Celestine, purchased by Moyglare Stud Farm for $ 2.55 million at Keeneland‘s breeding stock sale last November, won her seasonal debut for her new connections with a flashy performance in Saturday’s $ 100,000 Sand Springs at Gulfstream Park.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Celestine, the 3-5 favorite, set the pace in the one-mile turf race en route to a two-length victory over 8-5 second choice Catch a Glimpse. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Lori’s Store in third in the seven-horse field of older fillies and mares.
The 5-year-old’s winning time, over a course labeled firm, was 1:34.59. Celestine’s earlier fractions were 23.95, 48.25, 1:11.91, and 1:23.11.
Saddled for the first time by trainer Christophe Clement, Celestine was making her first start since finishing 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last November.
Celestine, who won last year’s Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont Park, will now be pointed to the $ 300,000 Honey Fox (G2) on the Florida Derby undercard, April 1.
Trainer Christophe Clement (Celestine): “She’s a top-class mare. She came to me in very good condition and trained very well. When you get a 5-year-old from Billy Mott you know you’re going to be OK.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz (Celestine): “Everything went perfect. She broke well and she was very alert. I just sat there and sat, sat, sat and tried to slow it down the best I could and when I asked her to go she responded very, very well. I’m very happy the way she ran and I’m looking forward to a good year with her.”
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