Horses trained by Bill Mott won both stakes races at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, and the Hall of Famer will seek a weekend sweep on Sunday when he saddles star mare Royal Delta in the $100,000 Sabin Stakes.
Amira’s Prince won the $100,000 Mac Diarmida (Grade 2) for males 4-years-old and up while Starformer won the $100,000 The Very One (Grade 3) for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up.
Both races were 1 3/8 miles on turf, with the course listed as good following heavy rain on Friday. Both winners were betting favorites.
After racing in third place most of the way, Amira’s Prince caught Teaks North midway in the stretch and beat that horse by 3 3/4 lengths. John Velazquez rode Amira’s Prince who won in 2:17.14.
The Mac Diarmda was the first U.S. stakes race for the 4-year-old Amira’s Prince, who improved his U.S. record to three wins in three starts, with two of them coming on turf allowances at Gulfstream.
Despite his limited U.S. experience, bettors made Amira’s Prince the 8-5 favorite in a strong eight-horse field.
Amira’s Prince began his career in Ireland in 2011. An American investment group headed by Adam Wachtel bought the horse last summer and transferred him to Mott.
Mott also trains Newsdad, who finished second in the Mac Diamida last year and was the morning line favorite on Saturday, but Mott scratched Newsdad, saying he did not want to run the horse on turf that was not firm.
Mott said he might run Amira’s prince in the Pan American (Grade 3) at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Gulfstream on March 23.
Starformer, at 3-2, beat Angegreen by 3 1/4 lengths and was ridden by Edgar Prado and won in 2:18.03. Starformer’s victory was her third in a graded turf stakes since last July.
The Sabin, at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, will be the first race for Royal Delta since last Nov. 2, when she won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (Grade 1) at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Benjamin Leon Jr., founder and chairman of the Leon Medical Centers in Miami-Dade County, owns the 5-year-old Royal Delta.
The Sabin is Sunday’s 10th race with scheduled post time of 5:05 p.m.
Royal Delta is one of just five entrants. Her regular jockey Mike Smith will be in from California for the race.
Grace Hall is the likely second choice. Last year, she finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic and won the 1 1/8 mile Gulfstream Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
“Naturally, we want to win the race,” Leon said. “But win or lose, we are using it as a prep for the race in Dubai.”
He and Mott plan to run Royal Delta in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30 in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai. She finished ninth in that race last year, against males.
“She had a very troubled trip in that race,” Mott said.
Royal Delta’s record also includes a win in the 2011 Ladies Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Pick 6 Carryover
On Sunday, Gulfstream will have a carryover of $2,778,771 on the Pick 6 bet on the last six races.
The bet is 10-cents only, with multiple horses permitted in each race.
Gulfstream pays out the entire Pick 6 pool including the carryover only on days when there is just one winning ticket.
When there are multiple winners, such as on Saturday, they divide 60 percent of the day’s new bets. The other 40 percent goes into the carryover.
Hialeah Closing Day
Hialleah Park will end its 2012-2013 horse racing quarter season on Sunday with 10 races and first post time of 2 p.m.
The feature ninth race is the $100,000 South Florida Quarter Horse Derby at 440 yards for 3-year-olds.