Although Saturday’s inaugural $490,500 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3) served up a couple of tactical plot twists, 4-5 favorite Regal Glory ensured a logical conclusion at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Chad Brown, the Peter Brant colorbearer loomed as the one to beat after a front-running conquest of the Nov. 28 Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar. Those tactics were more a product of circumstances, and not in the cards here, with the speedy Shifty She promising to take care of the pacesetting. But Regal Glory figured to put herself in a typically sensible spot.
A suboptimal start from post 4, however, made jockey Jose Ortiz adapt to work out a whole different trip. Regal Glory was shuffled further back when Gift List came over on her, and Ortiz spent the early going just helping the favorite get back in sync. Few could forecast that she’d have only one horse behind her in the 10-horse field, given the modest pace.
The other surprise was the early leader. Although Shifty She went forward, the 19-1 Alms decided to pass her and set the pace for the first time in her career. Shifty She found herself tracking Alms through fractions of :23.94 and :48.03 on the firm turf, then headed her turning for home in 1:11.98.
By that point, Ortiz had galvanized Regal Glory. Angled to the outside down the backstretch, the daughter of champion Animal Kingdom improved position on the far turn, and her closing kick proved irresistible. Regal Glory rolled past the battling pace factors to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths, negotiating 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.27.
“The ‘5’ horse (Gift List) broke really sharp and took my position,” Ortiz told Gulfstream publicity. “He broke a step faster than I did, but they went fast early and I was able to put her outside to follow Luis (Saez) on Sweet Melania – I rode her before and I know she likes the track and decided to follow her. At the three-eighths pole, I had a lot of horse and decided to go around everybody. You could see I had a lot of horse under me. She was just the best in the race.”
“I was a little nervous early on because she didn’t break that well, which she does sometimes,” Brown said. “Thankfully, Jose knows her so well and she’s so good that she was able to overcome it. He rode a beautiful Plan B type of race. It didn’t go his way the first part of it. Once he got her down the backside and following a live horse to move him up, it was really good judgment for him and the horse was there for him. I was proud of both of them.”
Alms dug in determinedly to regain runner-up honors by a neck from Shifty She. Gift List, always well placed as a ground-saving stalker, steered out and kept on to miss third by just a head. That was a most promising comeback for Gift List, who had been sidelined since June. Next came Bipartisanship, European import Wakanaka, Nicest, Summer in Saratoga, In a Hurry, and an uncharacteristically tailed-off Sweet Melania. Lady Speightspeare was scratched.
Regal Glory’s ninth stakes victory improved her scorecard to 17-10-4-0, $1,529,884. Five of those came in graded stakes. For her late owner/breeder, Paul Pompa, she captured the 2019 Lake Placid (G2) (in a dead-heat) and Lake George (G3) as well as the 2020 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3). Brant purchased her for $925,000 from Pompa’s estate dispersal at Keeneland January in 2021. The chestnut added the Plenty of Grace S. and De La Rose S., and placed a close second in the First Lady (G1), before her deserved Grade 1 breakthrough in the Matriarch.
Out of Pompa’s Grade 2 winner Mary’s Follies, Regal Glory is a half-sister to prominent Japanese dirt performer Cafe Pharoah, hero of the 2021 February (G1) at Tokyo. The More Than Ready mare is also responsible for multiple Grade 3 victor Night Prowler.
The six-year-old Regal Glory was slated to begin the next phase of her life as a broodmare, but her razor-sharp form is giving connections pause for a rethink.
“She was scheduled to be bred to Into Mischief,” Brown said. “Mr. Brant and I were watching her train this week up at Payson, and we were remarking how sound she is and how great she looks at this age. We left it the morning, let’s see how she runs and comes out of this race.
“It’s not out of the question to run her at six. So I’m going to let him enjoy this win, and we’re going to look at the horse, and ultimately he’s going to decide.”