HALLANDALE BEACH, FL–Rodney Lundock’s Florida-bred Maryquitecontrary will certainly be familiar with her surroundings Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the ultra-consistent 5-year-old mare has finished in the money in all 10 of her starts, including seven victories.

The graded-stakes winning daughter of Double Diamond Farm’s First Dude will be a stranger of sorts, however, when she puts her enviable one-turn record on the line in the Grade 3 Royal Delta, having never been tested around two turns during her 13-race career.

Maryquitecontrary drew post position two for the mile-and-one-sixteenth Royal Delta, which drew a field of 11 older fillies and mares vying for the winner’s share of the $150,000 purse.

“I think it’s time for her to try. If she can go a mile on dirt, why not a mile-and-a-sixteenth around two turns?’ trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “She drew good, I think, post position-wise. I like that post. We’ll find something out. Anytime I run a horse and find something out, it’s not a wasted effort no matter what happens for me.”

Maryquitecontrary has won twice in her only two races at a one-turn mile, capturing back-to-back editions of the $150,000 Rampart, including an easy one-length victory in her first start for Plesa on Dec. 30. She came back to finish third behind winner Olivia Darling on Jan. 27 in the Grade 2 Inside Information, a seven-furlong sprint she won in 2023 by two-and-a-half lengths.

“She’s pretty straightforward. She’s a very sound horse. You don’t have to worry about stuff like that. She’s fun to be around. She has a personality—not all horses do,” Plesa said. “It’s nice to be around her. It’s nice to go to the barn everyday and see her in that stall. She appreciates all the extra TLC, which she certainly deserves. But we try to give them all a little TLC.”

Maryquitecontrary has employed a drop-back, late-kick running style while amassing a bankroll of $622,805 during a career that includes a close second-place finish behind Goodnight Olive in the 2023 Madison (G1) at Keeneland.

Regular jockey Luca Panici has the return mount Saturday and they are listed at 7-2 on the morning line.

Saffie Joseph Jr., the two-time defending Championship Meet titlist who currently leads this season’s trainer standings, is represented by four in the Royal Delta field – Final Furlong Farm and Madaket Stable’s Honor D Lady, Vegso Racing Stable’s Imonra, Sean Defreitas’ Florida-bred Rosie’s Halo and C2 Racing Stable LLC and Paul Braverman’s Libban.

Honor D Lady earned the distinction of having been triumphant on dirt, turf and the synthetic course. The 4-year-old daughter of Honor Code, who captured the Honey Ryder on turf last spring and finished second to Solo Album in the Grade 3 Selene over Woodbine’s synthetic main course, is coming off a pair of solid efforts in graded stakes on dirt.

Honor D Lady captured the Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks on Sept. 24 before concluding her 3-year-old campaign with a solid third-place finish in the Grade 3 Comely on Nov. 25 at Aqueduct.

Jose Ortiz has the call on Honor D Lady and they have post six. Honor D Lady is 6-1 in the program.

Imonra enters the Royal Delta off a second-place finish behind Maryquitecontrary in the Rampart. The 4-year-old daughter of Violence finished second to Crypto in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks last season. Rosie’s Halo finished fourth in the Rampart. Libban won a $62,500 optional claiming by four lengths at Gulfstream before finishing fourth in the Jan. 13 Wayward Lass won by Royal Delta-rival Opus Forty Two at Tampa Bay Downs.

Edgard Zayas has the return mount on Imonra, while Javier Castellano will ride Rosie’s Halo for the first time. Edwin Gonzalez has the call on Libban. Rosie’s Halo is also entered to run in Saturday $100,000 Nellie Morse at Laurel Park.

KimDon Racing LLC’s Tizzy in the Sky, a vastly improved 5-year-old daughter of Sky Kingdom, is slated to make her 2024 debut in the Royal Delta after finishing her 2023 campaign with a runner-up finish in the Dec. 2 Go For Wand (G3) at Aqueduct.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has awarded the mount to Irad Ortiz Jr.

Godolphin LLC’s Nostalgic, who finished second to Hot and Sultry in the Grade 2 Chilukki on Nov. 18 at Churchill Downs before finishing a disappointing sixth in the Rampart; Mark Grier’s Opus Forty Two, a multiple graded stakes-placed daughter of Mendelssohn who captured the Wayward Lass;  Haras Lizzie Inc.’s Yuki, a winner at Del Mar and Los Alamitos last season; Gerald James and Hall Performance Inc.’s South of an Angel, a second level, $32,000 optional claiming winner at Tampa last time out; and Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s Magical Lute, who finished third in the Wayward Lass; round out the field.

Return to Feb. 16 issue of Wire to Wire