Didia Surges to Victory in G2 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf

January 27, 2024

Didia takes the Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Coglianese)

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Prominently placed early, favorite Didia surged to the lead in the stretch and held off longshot Surprisingly by a neck to win the third running of the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational (G2) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

The Filly and Mare Turf preceded the sixth running of the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and the eighth renewal of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) presented by Baccarat on dirt. That trio comprise the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series and and were the headliners of a spectacular 13-race program featuring seven graded stakes worth $5.2 million in purses.

In addition to the top prize money for the winner of the 1 1/16 miles test, The TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf is an automatic qualifier for the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes at “Glorious Goodwood” in late July. Didia, a 6-year-old Argentinian mare owned by Merriebelle Stable earned an automatic entry into the race and a $25k stipend for travel.

Didia’s triumph in the Filly and Mare Turf was her sixth victory in eight starts in North America since being imported from Argentina in 2022 and moved to the care of veteran trainer Ignacio Correas IV. She was 3-1 the wagering and paid $8.60 to win.

“It’s very exciting,” Correas said. “It’s our first time coming here, and it’s really great.”

Accomplished Gal bounced out to the lead from the gate, but Didia and jockey Jose Ortiz were always with her, pressing the pace. Under Edgard Zayas, Accomplished Gal covered the first quarter in 24.88 seconds and the half mile in 46.62. The six-furlong time was 1:12.01 and Didia reached the wire in 1:40.90.

“I told [jockey] Jose [Ortiz] to be close and don’t leave her that much to do,” Correas said. “He was a bit closer but when I saw that the pace was not that fast, I was very happy with where she was. I thought if she got beat it was going to be if she beat herself. She had everything in her favor.”

In her most recent start, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park, Didia turned in an uncharacteristically poor showing and ended up 10th of 12, though she was only 4 ½ lengths back.

“We thought that she was going to run off like she did in California,” Ortiz said, “that she was going to go off in :46 or something like that, but she didn’t. When I hit the first turn, I knew we were going very reasonable and I was able to take the position that I did.”

“You can see her head and she put her ears up on the backside. I was head-to-head but she was relaxed. I was very happy in the position that I was.”

After a mile in 1:35.14, Didia separated herself from the competition by the sixteenth pole, but had to deal with the challenge from Repole Stable’s Surprisingly, who came up the rail under Oisin Murphy.

“She gave me a very nice kick from the 3/16th to the last couple of yards,” Ortiz said. “The other horses started gaining more ground on me but she was already on the end.”

Surprisingly, a Phipps Stable homebred purchased by Repole Stable for $1 million at auction in November, was making her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher. Surprisingly went off at 25-1 in the wagering and finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Ruby Nell.

“She closed really well,” Pletcher said. “The fractions were pretty soft. She was at a disadvantage. I’m pleased with her effort.”

Surprisingly drew the outside post in the field that was reduced to 11 by the scratch of Full Count Felicia

“[Oisin Murphy] worked his way over. It kind of worked out well,” Pletcher said. “She didn’t break well. He kind of tucked in and she worked her way through horses. Then he found a seam for himself.”

Spendthrift Farm’s Ruby Nell was always in contention in a stalking position, but never was able to use her speed to make a solid run at the leaders.

“She ran nice,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. “She got away from the gate a little bit too relaxed. I guess I put her to sleep with my training. We’re going to have to set the alarm clock better next time. With that pace, she should have been cruising right along. Hey, I’m happy to be third.”

Correa came away from the race even more impressed with Didia.

“I think that probably she’s better than I ever imagined,” he said. “She can do whatever. When you think that she was running a mile and a quarter and them come and put in such a performance almost wire to wire, close to the lead, these horses they just train themselves. We just need to stay out of the way.”

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