Cookie Dough tastes sweet victory in Gulfstream’s Royal Delta

Arindel’s homebred Cookie Dough, who had gamely finished second or third in five of six previous graded stakes, got the elusive grade Saturday at Gulfstream Park when she won the Grade 3, $150,000 Royal Delta by three-quarters of a length over Golden Award.

Saddled by Saffie Joseph Jr. for the first time and ridden by Paco Lopez, Cookie Dough, a 4-year-old daughter of Brethren by Brooke’s Valentine, covered the 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track in 1:43.57.

Cookie Dough, who won the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Sire Stakes in 2018, had finished a game second last year in the Rampart (G3), Victory Ride (G3) and Davona Dale (G2) and third in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).

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“I’m very proud of her,” said Joseph. “She came from [trainer] Stan Gold. Her form spoke for itself. We just hoped we could get her to run as good as Stan because Stan did a great job.”

Cookie Dough, who has always been forwardly placed and usually on the lead, broke from the No. 6 post and was taken back to second off a :23.26, 46.68 pace set by Tweeting. But approaching the final turn, Lopez moved Cookie Dough past the leader to the front. An objection by jockey Tyler Gaffalione on Golden Award for interference entering the stretch was not allowed. Golden Award finished second, Queen Nekia third, and 2018 Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Coach Rocks was fifth. Restless Rider, second in the 2019 Ashland (G1), was sixth.

When asked if the plan was to rate Cookie Dough, Joseph said, “That was Paco. He came into the paddock and said he wanted to sit second. I said, ‘Paco, don’t premeditate it. Play the break.’ That was a good place to sit. She got a little tough. She’s tough in the morning.”

Cookie Dough, who has placed first, second or third in 10 of 13 starts, returned $5.20.