Royal Ship, who had been knocking on the door in Graded Stakes since his arrival in California last year, finally broke through in a big way to notch his first North American Graded Stakes victory in the G2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita April 17.
A five-year-old Brazilian-bred gelding by Midshipman, Royal Ship came to the U.S. highly thought of, having won five of seven starts with one G1 victory already to his credit. Since arriving in Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s barn, Royal Ship has only run in Graded Stakes, most recently finishing fifth – only beaten a length – in the G1 Frank Kilroe Mile.
Piloted once again by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Royal Ship showed early speed while racing alongside leader Country Grammer as the field ran past the stands for the first time. Smith then took Royal Ship slightly off the pace, content to stalk the leader while racing in second. Royal Ship reengaged Country Grammer on the far turn, and the pair matched strides through the stretch before Royal Ship finally put away his rival in the shadow of the wire to win by a neck. Favorite Independence Hall was another neck back in third.
Royal Ship was bred in Brazil by Haras Belmont and is out of the Val Royal mare, Bela Val. Royal Ship is a half-brother to multiple Graded Stakes winner Royal Forestry (G3 Grande Premio Chanceler Oswaldo Aranha, etc.).
Royal Ship is the fourth Stakes winner this year for Midshipman, who has also sired Wink (Melody of Colors Stakes), Happy Sailor (Bara Lass Stakes) and Morestride (Howard B. Noonan Stakes). Midshipman continues to be a consistent sire of Black Type horses. His 17% career Black Type horses from starters continues to be among the best in the business – no stallion under $90K can do better.
Midshipman is standing the 2021 breeding season at Jonabell Farm for $7,500 stands and nurses.