HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Arindel homebred Cookie Dough finally made the grade in her seventh attempt on Saturday, running a bit wildly in the slop but getting the job done nonetheless in the $150,000 Royal Delta Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

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Breaking from the far outside post 6 under Paco Lopez as the 8/5 favorite, Cookie Dough was keen to run on the front end and responded to Lopez’s restraint by running well on the outside heading into the clubhouse turn. To her inside, Tweeting held a slight lead while posting fractions of :23.36 and :46.68.

Let loose heading into the far turn, Cookie Dough soon took command from Tweeting, but Golden Award was hot on her heels. At the top of the stretch, Cookie Dough came under pressure from Golden Award to her outside and Queen Nekia on the rail. 

The trio fought tooth and nail together, but Cookie Dough’s class prevailed in the late stages. Repelling both bids in the shadow of the wire, Cookie Dough crossed first by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:43.57 for the 1 1/16-mile event, her first under trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Credit: Coglianese Photos / Lauren King

“That was Paco,” said Joseph, Jr., about the decision to rate Cookie Dough, who has shown a penchant for leading early. “He came into the paddock and said he wanted to sit second. I said, ‘Paco, don’t premeditate it. Play the break.’ That was a good place to sit. She got a little tough. She’s tough in the morning.”

Golden Award nipped Queen Nekia by a nose at the line, while Tweeting faded in the stretch to finish fourth. Neither Coach Rocks nor Restless Rider showed much before completing the order of finish.

Cookie Dough’s win was her first since winning the final two legs of the FTBOA Florida Sire Series in 2018 and improved her 13-3-3-4 with $621,220 earned. The 4-year-old daughter of Brethren had a graded stakes record of 6-0-3-2 coming into the Royal Delta.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Joseph, Jr. “She came from Stan Gold. Her form spoke for itself. We just hoped we could get her to run as good as Stan because Stan did a great job.”

Cookie Dough returned $5.20 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Golden Award brought back $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show, while Queen Nekia paid $3.20 to show.