Her connections have changed in the interim, and her price was a lot shorter, but Celestine otherwise sparked a sense of déjà vu with a front-running repeat victory – again over Mississippi Delta – in Saturday’s $300,000 Honey Fox (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
On Florida Derby Day 2016, the 5-1 Celestine rolled by 3 1/4 lengths for then-owner Phaedrus Flights and Hall of Famer Bill Mott. This time on the Florida Derby undercard, she was the prohibitive 1-5 favorite, and performed right up to billing for Moyglare Stud and trainer Christophe Clement.
Celestine, a $2.55 million purchase at Keeneland last November, breezed to victory in her comeback in the March 4 Sand Springs, and stayed perfect in her new silks in the Honey Fox. Mississippi Delta broke a tad more quickly just outside of Celestine and led in the first strides, but Celestine’s jockey Jose Ortiz cleverly wheeled her around her rival, and that was essentially it.
The defending champion coasted to the front by the time they reached the opening quarter in :24.45 on the firm course, waltzed through splits of :49.01 and 1:12.85, and delivered the coup de grace in the final quarter-mile. Celestine zoomed clear with an :11.08 penultimate furlong and held comfortably through a final eighth in :11.26. A 1 1/4-length winner over repeat runner-up Mississippi Delta, she negotiated the mile in 1:35.19.
Celestine has now become a millionaire with $1,069,655 in earnings while improving her record to 16-8-2-2. Chief among her seven stakes wins is the Just a Game (G1) on the Belmont S. (G1) undercard last June, and she concluded the season with a third in the First Lady (G1) and an uncharacteristic 12th versus the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
The five-year-old Scat Daddy mare is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Haunted Heroine. Their dam, Mona Mia, is a Monarchos half-sister to 2009 Pan American (G3) victor Buddy’s Humor, and her extended family includes Grade 1 scorer Super May.
Earlier in the $200,000 Appleton (G3), Wertheimer et Frere’s homebred All Included earned an arguably overdue first stakes victory in last-to-first fashion. The even-money favorite had placed in the past two runnings of the Gulfstream Park H. (G1), most recently being promoted to second in the February 11 renewal, and put that form edge to good use here.
Under patient handling by Javier Castellano, the Todd Pletcher trainee was content to trail early as Siding Spring rattled off fractions of :23.41, :46.29 and 1:09.73. Delta Prince, the half-brother to late champion Royal Delta, was parked in the garden spot in third in this stakes debut. Smoothly advancing to challenge turning into the stretch, Delta Prince swamped Siding Spring and appeared poised to extend his record to 3-0 over the Gulfstream turf.
But All Included was produced at the last instant, and his turn of foot proved decisive. Along in time by a half-length, the six-year-old son of Include clocked 1:33.12 for the mile.
Delta Prince, who was making only his fifth career start, did everything right but win, and the Stronach Stables homebred promises to progress further for Jimmy Jerkens. By Street Cry and out of multiple Grade 3 turf heroine Delta Princess, he’s also a half-brother to 2014 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) winner Crown Queen.
All Included’s resume now reads 17-5-2-3, $507,440, reflecting additional placings in the 2015 Bernard Baruch H. (G2) and 2016 Ft. Lauderdale (G2). His dam, the French stakes-placed Atticus mare Eximius, is also responsible for 2013 Honeymoon H. (G2) victress Sarach. All Included’s second dam is multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Gorgeous, and his third dam is Canadian champion and Broodmare of the Year Kamar.