Carina Mia overcomes slow start to win Acorn Stakes

ELMONT, N.Y. - Carina Mia raced on the lead in her first four starts but changed tactics after not breaking well to win the Grade 2 Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs in early May. On Saturday in the Grade 1 Acorn, she came from off the pace again, this time rallying from last to win the $700,000 race by 1-1/4 lengths.

Carina Mia didn't break sharply in the Acorn and was taken back by jockey Julien Leparoux. When Javier Castellano eased Cathryn Sophia off the pace while racing in front of Carina Mia, Leparoux again took hold of Carina Mia, and she ended up in the last position in the six-horse field.

"I thought we would be in front of Cathryn Sophia, but when we weren't, I decided to take back," Leparoux said.

Cathryn Sophia, the 4-5 favorite, broke alertly and was joined on the lead from the outside by Go Maggie Go. When Paola Queen moved up inside Cathryn Sophia to make it three across the track, Castellano took Cathryn Sophia back into a stalking position.

Cathryn Sophia moved up between Go Maggie Go and Paola Queen on the turn. Soon thereafter, Carina Mia began to advance. In upper stretch, Cathryn Sophia took the lead, but she could offer little resistance to Carina Mia, who rallied five wide into the stretch and drew away.

Off the Tracks rallied to overtake Cathryn Sophia by a length for second.

Carina Mia, trained by Bill Mott, paid $6.10 to win as the second betting choice. She was timed in 1:44.97 after even fractions of 23.05 seconds, 46.17, and 1:10.23.

Mott and Carina Mia's owner, Three Chimneys Farm, will now have to decide whether to stretch Carina Mia out in distance or keep her around one turn. Mott said he would discuss the options with Goncalo Torrealba, the chairman of Three Chimneys.

The next major race for 3-year-old fillies in New York is the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 1-1/16 miles on July 2, a race that Mott said is too close to the Acorn.

The July 24 Coaching Club American Oaks at 1-1/8 miles at Saratoga is the prep for the 1-1/4-mile Alabama on Aug. 20.

Another option would be the Test, a seven-furlong race at Saratoga on Aug. 6.

"We'll have to make a decision which way we want to go," Mott said. "I think she'd probably be a perfect fit for the Test. Mr. Torrealba sometimes likes to stretch his horses out. We'll have to see what the best thing to do is."

The beginning of Carina Mia's season was delayed when she missed the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park with a minor illness and then was unable to run in the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March due to a herpesvirus quarantine at Payson Park in Florida, where she was stabled.

Carina Mia had to go into the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland without a prep and finished fourth, beaten 2-1/2 lengths. She rebounded with a six-length win in the seven-furlong Eight Belles prior to the Acorn.

Carina Mia earned $375,000 on Saturday and now has a 6-4-1-0 record and $684,120 in earnings.