HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Don Alberto Stable’s Magic Star prevailed after a long stretch battle to capture her first graded score in Saturday’s $150,000 Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 3 as the 5/2 second choice under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Magic Star allowed her competitors to run ahead the first time past the grandstand, settling into sixth heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, Piece by Peace secured command, posting fractions of :23.40, :46.72, and 1:10.09 while Maroubra gave closest watch.
Midway through the far turn, it was still anyone’s race as only a handful of lengths separated first through seventh. Andina del Sur and Sweet Bye and Bye, the co-2/1 favorites, were tipped out to run three- and four-wide off the turn, but Magic Star remained patiently handled while Ortiz, Jr., gradually angled her out widest of all.
Given her cue shortly after straightening for home, Magic Star ran up alongside Andina del Sur, her fellow Don Alberto Stable color-bearer, at the 1/8 pole. Continuing to kick on steadily in the stretch, Magic Star had to dig deep to fend off a challenge from Munchkin Money, who had charged between Andina del Sur and Sweet Bye and Bye with 1/16 of a mile remaining.
Refusing to yield late, the Chad Brown-trained Magic Star crossed first by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:39.67 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“She was right there for me the whole way,” said Ortiz, Jr. “Turning for home, I had two horses in front of me, so I just had to kind of wait a few jumps to tip her out, and as soon as I tipped her out, she just kicked on. She doesn’t have too much speed, so the plan was to let her be where she’s comfortable and then go from there.”
Munchkin Money was a 1/2-length clear of Andina del Sur, with Sweet Bye and Bye another 2 lengths back in fourth. Further behind to complete the order of finish came Maroubra, Piece by Peace, and Malkia, who was pulled up and vanned off shortly after crossing.
Magic Star’s win was her second in three starts, having broken her maiden on debut at Saratoga in August before finishing sixth over a Belmont Park turf course rated good in October. The 4-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, purchased for $500,000 as a yearling, has now earned $140,970.
“She was ready today,” said Ortiz, Jr. “She’s a nice filly and she’s still learning.”
Magic Star returned $7.20 to win, $4.60 to place, and $2.80 to show. Munchkin Money brought back $5.20 to place and $2.80 to show, while Andina del Sur paid $2.40 to show.