ELMONT, N.Y. – Carina Mia registered her first career Grade 1 victory by besting an accomplished six-horse field to win the $700,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies on the main track as part of the Saturday Belmont Stakes Day card.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Carina Mia moved from sixth at the half-mile mark and pull ahead at the top of the stretch before finishing 1 ¼-lengths ahead of Off the Tracks for her fourth win in six career starts.
Jockey Julien Leparoux, who guided Carina Mia to wins in the Grade 2 Golden Rod and Eight Belles, rode her from post position 4 to win against a field that included Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks-winner Cathryn Sophia and Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan-winner Go Maggie Go.
“We thought there was speed in there,” Mott said. “It actually turned out to be a little bit more than what we thought. Certainly Cathryn Sophia, it looked like they wanted to send her into the race a little bit.”
“Her first race came off a five-month layoff and things hadn’t gone just right. She probably needed the race to get back in gear, I suppose. It is nice to get her a Grade 1 win.”
Carina Mia, who had finished fourth in her only previous Grade 1 start in the Ashland, hit the wire in 1:34.97 on the fast track. She paid $6.10 for a $2 win wager.
“I thought I was going to be behind Cathryn Sophia and Go Maggie Go, but I saw them go away from there so I decided to just sit off of them,” Leparoux said. “I felt confident at the top of the stretch. I came around everyone and she kicked on at the end. She’s a nice filly. We didn’t get to the Oaks but maybe it was for the best because she won a big race today.”
Off the Tracks, trained by Todd Pletcher, posted her second consecutive in-the-money finish in a graded stakes start after coming in third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez guided Off the Tracks from fifth at the three-quarter mile mark to a second-place showing one length ahead of Cathryn Sophia.
“I thought our filly ran very well,” Pletcher said. “It was kind of a hard race to predict how it was going to unfold, pace-wise. We were a little unsure of where we’d be early but I thought she adjusted well, being inside and behind horses most of the way. She finished up well and I thought she was closing with interest the last part. I thought she ran very well.”
The John Servis-trained Cathryn Sophia entered with five wins in six starts, including a 2 ¾-length win in the Kentucky Oaks last out at Churchill Downs. She led at the three-quarter mark, setting a fraction of 1:10.23 before Carina Mia and Off the Tracks made a late push.
“I had a good trip. I don’t know why she didn’t finish today but we’ll figure it out,” Cathryn Sophia jockey Javier Castellano said. “Maybe today just wasn’t her day.”
Go Maggie Go, trained by Dale Romans, came in fourth in her first start since the Black-Eyed Susan win. Paola Queen and Forever Darling completed the order of finish.
The 86th running of the Acorn was the first of six Grade 1 races on the Belmont Stakes Day docket.