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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ken Copenhaver’s Queen Nekia pulled off a 29/1 upset in Saturday’s $100,000 Royal Delta Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Queen Nekia was last early in the field of eight under jockey Corey Lanerie, which seemed to the the safe place to ride while her stablemate Gibberish dueled swiftly with the 3/2 favorite Mrs. Danvers up front.
Needling her way along the rail through the far turn, Queen Nekia slipped through and drew off in the stretch, running away to win the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:43.62.
“It set up good; I saw a little pace on paper,” Lanerie said. “She broke really good. I was trying to get over to the rail, and then finally I just kind of let all the speed go and got back a little bit, probably a little bit further than I wanted to. When I called on her, I had a lot of horse.”
The 2/1 second choice Eres Tu was 4 3/4 lengths well clear of Bajan Girl, herself a 1/2-length clear of Gibberish.
Mrs. Danvers, Hallawallah, High Regard, and Dream Marie completed the order of finish.
Queen Nekia’s win was her second at the stakes level following last August’s 7-furlong Dance to Bristol Stakes at Charles Town and improved her overall record to 32-10-6-7 with $489,736 earned. Joseph claimed the 6-year-old Florida-bred Harlington mare for $25k in December 2019 and saddled her to a third-place finish in last year’s running.
“She’s a deserving winner,” Joseph said. “She’s a filly that deserved a Grade 3. She’s a filly we claimed for $25k and this makes her so much more valuable.”
Queen Nekia returned $60.60 to win, $19.20 to place, and $8.80 to show. Eres Tu brought back $3.80 to place and $2.80 to show. Bajan Girl paid $3.80 to show.
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