Regalo Mia, who will bid for her third consecutive
stakes victory in Thursday’s 1½-mile Bewitch Stakes (G3) on the
Keeneland turf course, is the 120-pound highweight in the race and is a
star for trainer Michelle Nihei. But she’s not the most accomplished
runner in Nihei’s string here. That honor belongs to Grade 1 winner Prince Will I Am, who has been Nihei’s pony horse since the spring meet opened.
“He’s a pretty cool guy. He’s one of the nicest horses,
movement-wise, that I’ve ever ridden,” Nihei said about Prince Will I
Am, a six-year-old ridgling by Victory Gallop whom she first rode when
he was two.
Racing for Casa Farms I LLC, Prince Will I Am won five of 19 races
and earned $429,084 from 2009-2012. He won the 2010 Jamaica Handicap
(G1) to give Nihei her first Grade 1 win and captured the 2010 W.L.
McKnight Handicap (G2) and 2011 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2). The chestnut
made one Keeneland start, running fifth in the 2009 Coolmore Lexington
Prince Will I Am had a few physical issues during his career that
eventually led to his retirement. His final race was last November at
Calder, where he finished fifth in the W.L. McKnight.
Nihei said Prince Will I Am was bored when he was turned out at the
owner’s farm but is thriving at the racetrack - “he’s always enjoyed
having a job” - and seems to be a mentor to the younger horses in
Nihei’s 10-horse stable.
“He likes to go to the track,” Nihei said. “He doesn’t care if I take five sets to the starting gate.”
Nihei trains Regalo Mia, a four-year-old Florida-bred daughter of
Sligo Bay (IRE), for owner Steven W. Ciccarone of Baltimore. The filly
has won two races at Gulfstream Park this year, taking the January 19
Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes and the March 30 Orchid
Stakes (G3), the latter at the same conditions as the Bewitch.
“She’s doing so well,” Nihei said. “I don’t like to run anybody back
too quickly and sometimes she seems to be more of a six- to seven-week
horse, but she has never come out of a race better so it’s hard to turn
this one down.”
Last year, Regalo Mia was ninth in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at
Churchill Downs behind Centre Court, who won the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1)
here on April 13. Regalo Mia had a second in the Herecomesthebride
Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream and a third in the Appalachian Stakes (G3) at
Keeneland. Those races were won by Dayatthespa, who won the Queen
Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1) here in October.
“We’ve never made it easy for her,” Nihei said about Regalo Mia, who
will be ridden in the Bewitch by Luis Conteras and break from post
position nine in the field of 12.. Contreras was aboard her in the