Royal Ship sails to victory in G2 San Diego Handicap

Midshipman gelding draws off late to win easily

Royal Ship took command at the top of the stretch and was never challenged on his way to posting an impressive three-length victory over Country Grammer in the G2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday, 30 July.

It was the second Stakes win from three starts this year for the talented Midshipman gelding, who also captured the Listed John Shear Mile earlier this season. Royal Ship most recently was third in the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup behind fellow San Diego rivals There Goes Harvard and Defunded.

Most of the pre-race focus was on Country Grammer, who was making his first start since winning the G1 Dubai World Cup in March. Also drawing plenty of attention was Mandaloun, winner of the 2021 G1 Kentucky Derby and G1 Haskell Invitational. 

Partnered as usual by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Royal Ship sat a stalking trip in fourth, just behind the leading duo of Defunded and Stiletto Boy, while racing just off the flank of favored Country Grammer. Royal Ship ranged into contention on the far turn, making a bold, sweeping move while racing four-wide. The bay gelding took the lead at the top of the lane and began to draw off, eventually cruising under the wire to win quite easily while still under a hand-ride. Country Grammer was second, with Stiletto Boy third and Mandaloun in fourth.

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 winners Royal Forestry (G3 Grande Premio Chanceler Oswaldo Aranha, etc.) and King Four (G3 Grande Premio Presidente Antonio Correa Barbosa).

In addition to Royal Ship, Midshipman is also represented this year by Fortino, a four-time Graded Stakes winner as a two-year-old in Chile this year, which includes a victory in the G1 Premio Alberto Vial Infante; Succeso, winner of the G2 Premio Verano Arturo Cousino L. and Shipsational, who was placed in both the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes.