Playing Marika commenced her career with a debut win at Northam in October 2018 and it took 53 starts before she scored another first-up victory in the LR Grandstand Cup (1400m) at Ascot on Saturday.
A first-crop daughter of Playing God, she is the 12th individual black-type winner for the Darling View Thoroughbreds resident and it sent her earnings through $500,000 with the inclusion of $61,000 in bonuses from Westspeed. She’s the second LR Grandstand Cup winner by her sire following Son Of A God in 2022.
Alerted by a poor fresh record, punters allowed Playing Marika (Photo / Western Racepix) to start at $14 even though her previous campaign culminated with strong Group 3 placings behind Alsephina in the Starstruck Classic (1600m) and La Trice Classic (1800m).
The veteran mare was beaten to a split approaching the furlong but she bided her time and lifted late to score by a neck over Em Tee Aye (I’m All The Talk) for owner-breeders Livio and Renato Divitini.
“I promised Livio last year that we would win a Stakes race before she went to stud,” trainer Steph Bakranich said. “She still has a zest for racing and is getting better with age although I didn’t think she would win first-up.
“She travelled really well and the only concern was getting a run in time.”
Playing Marika (7m Playing God – Just Marika by Grandera) is closely-related to speed-machine Nerodio who has won 11 races up to Listed level in the Beaufine Stakes (twice) and Belmont Newmarket.
Nerodio is also from Playing God’s first-crop and has earned $560,000 for Divitini Racing and Bakranich. He’s the first foal from Black Carat (Lonhro) who is a winning half-sister to Doyoudare (LR WA Tatt’s Cup) and the dam of Playing Marika.
Playing God (Blackfriars) leads the WA Sires’ premiership with prizemoney of $3.55 million and he’s also on top of the black-type table with four strikes ahead of Trade Fair (2) and Sessions (2).
Darling View stood him for $27,500 (inc GST) last year and a fee increase is feasible on the back of a $133,000 average during Book 1 of last month’s Perth Magic Millions Yearling Sale.