Photo: Janet Garaguso/NYRA
St. George Stable LLC’s Letruska is scheduled to make her 2022 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park, where the Eclipse Award champion made an eye-opening U.S. debut a little over two years ago.
The Royal Delta, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for older fillies and mares, will headline Saturday’s 12-race program at Gulfstream Park.
Undefeated in her first six career starts while establishing dominance in Mexico, Letruska made it abundantly clear in the Copa Invitacional del Caribe at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 8, 2019 that she had a future in the U.S.
“I knew that she was a racehorse, when I saw the way she ran in Mexico, I said, ‘This horse has the capacity to do something special,’” trainer Fausto Gutierrez said. “But I never imagined something like this.”
Letruska defeated males by 4 ¼ lengths in the 1 ¼-mile stakes on the Classico del Caribe program for horses representing Latin American and the Caribbean. Sixteen races and eight graded stakes (four Grade 1 stakes) victories later, the 6-year-old daughter of Super Saver enters the Royal Delta as North America’s older dirt female champion.
“It is very important. This is a horse that took all the steps to a championship. She came from a foreign country and arrived here. She took it step by step and finally last year she won six graded races, four Grade 1,” Gutierrez said. “She’s a great horse.”
Letruska is 3-for-3 over Gulfstream’s main track, having also won the 2020 Added Elegance and Rampart (G3) before going on to dominate her division last year.
The Kentucky-bred mare captured the Houston Ladies (G3) at Sam Houston, Azeri (G2) and Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn, Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park, Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs, Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga and Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.
Her 2022 campaign ended on a sour note after she finished off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Del Mar.
“After 13 months of travel, maybe she wasn’t the same horse,” Gutierrez said.
Letruska will make her 2022 debut off a series of strong workouts at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“I’m very happy. She’s had six weeks in Ocala and came back very strong and very happy,” Gutierrez said.
Letruska produced three ‘bullet’ works in a row before finishing her preparation for the Royal Delta with a five-furlong maintenance breeze.
“She can still run because she’s in very good condition. I think this is the perfect spot to come back,” Gutierrez said. “After this race, we will probably go to the Apple Blossom. We need to defend that race. After that, we’ll stay more in the Kentucky area.”
Jose Ortiz has the mount aboard Letruska, who is 2-for-2 aboard the homebred mare with whom he teamed for victories in the Ogden Phipps and Fleur de Lis.
Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Crazy Beautiful, also enters the Royal Delta with a strong record of performance over the Gulfstream track. The 4-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map captured the 2021 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) following a second-place finish in the Davona Dale (G2) last season.
“She’s won here going two turns, so I thought it was the best next step,” trainer Kenny McPeek said.
Crazy Beautiful went on to win the Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita and Delaware Oaks (G3) last season.
“She’s just been a good filly all around. She’s close to winning a million dollars,” McPeek said. “She’s done well here this winter.”
Corey Lanerie has the call on Crazy Beautiful.