(Edited NYRA release0
Rhumb Line will put her unbeaten streak on the line while simultaneously making her stakes debut against five rivals in Saturday's 47th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose. Contested at nine furlongs, the Mother Goose is the first leg of the New York Racing Association's revised Triple Tiara for thee-year-old fillies.
Subsequent legs of the Triple Tiara are the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont on July 19th and the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga on August 16th. NYRA will award the connections of any 3-year-old filly that can sweep all three legs of the Triple Tiara with a $2 million bonus. The Triple Tiara was previously made up of the Acorn, Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks.
A year ago, Rhumb Line's trainer Frank Alexander perused over the past performances of the four fillies pointing for the 2002 Mother Goose. Concluding it was a "light field," he entered Nonsuch Bay in the race. She would later earn her first Grade 1 win in the Mother Goose. Alexander has taken a similar view to the 2003 Mother Goose, the main reason he has entered Rhumb Line despite the fact her biggest win came in a second-level allowance race.
"It was a light race last year; it's basically the same kind of field this year," said Alexander, who has a chance to become the fourth trainer in history to win the Mother Goose in consecutive years. "She's been very impressive so far. Only the good ones can win their first three starts. Still, this is a big step up for her. She's going to have to improve."
As for speed figures, Rhumb Line is slower than graded stakes winners Roar Emotion, Yell and Final Round. On the other hand, however, the Mother Goose will be Rhumb Line's fourth career start and it is highly unlikely she has peaked. While winning her first three starts, Rhumb Line has displayed good early speed, the ability to rate behind horses and a tremendous amount of heart. Her first two races saw her prove best after all-out stretch battles.
"She loves to train, she's very strong and she has a great mind," Alexander said. "Anyone can gallop her. She's quiet. She's got a great disposition. She's just a pleasure to be around."
Rhumb Line, a daughter of Mr. Greeley, drew post 5 in the Mother Goose. This is her first start beyond one mile.
"I think she can be a little better at nine furlongs," Alexander said. "She's out of a Pleasant Colony mare. I think this filly might be better than Nonsuch Bay."
Jockey Eibar Coa has the mount.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s Final Round, winner of Churchill Downs' Grade 3 La Troienne, makes her second consecutive start versus Grade 1 company in the Mother Goose. A daughter of Storm Cat-Profit Column, by Private Account, she fell a length shot of upsetting the Grade 1 Acorn when third to Bird Town and Lady Tak. Final Round, wide throughout most of the Acorn, easily turned in the best effort of her eight-race career on June 6th.
"She was training like she was going to improve and she did," trainer George "Rusty" Arnold said. "We weren't real lucky with the trip she got, but it wasn't a bad trip."
Like Rhumb Line, Final Round is making her nine-furlong debut in the Mother Goose. Arnold does not foresee the distance posing a problem to his leading three-year-old filly.
"She's by Storm Cat and he's sired horses that have won at a mile and a quarter," Arnold said. "His dam won going long. I think it'll help her rather than hinder her."
Claiborne Farm's Yell, a runaway winner of Gulfstream's Davona Dale in February and third in the Kentucky Oaks, will likely earn the favorite's role. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Yell has won three of six starts for more than $227,000. Unraced for nearly seven weeks, Yell has worked five times since the Kentucky Oaks. Her regular rider John Velazquez has the mount.
Joseph Allen's Roar Emotion is a multiple Grade 2 winner having won Aqueduct's Demoiselle and Pimlico's Black Eyed Susan. A daughter of Roar, she's got sprinter-like speed, but has excelled in routes. This will be her debut in a one-turn, nine-furlong race.
"I think she'll be fine," her trainer, Carlos Martin said. "She's got good early speed, but she's not one dimensional. If Rhumb Line or someone else wants to go we'll let them. We're going to play it by ear. She can run from anywhere."
Martin and Allen have pinpointed the Mother Goose and the two additional legs of Triple Tiara for Roar Emotion. Because of this, they have kept their filly fresh. Roar Emotion has only run twice since winning last November's Demoiselle at the Big A.
"I think that could play to our advantage," Martin said. "We sat out some of the big hard races like the Breeders' Cup and Kentucky Oaks with the Mother Goose in mind. We haven't abused her. She's fresh. She's getting stronger if that's possible. There's definitely room for improvement."
Roar Emotion has picked up jockey Jose Santos for the Mother Goose. Her regular rider, John Velazquez, is riding Yell.
Post position order with trainer, jockey, and weight:
1. Final Round, Rusty Arnold, Edgar Prado, 121
2. Virgin Voyage, Jen Pedersen, Jorge Chavez, 121
3. Yell, Shug McGaughey, John Velazquez, 121
4. Spoken Fur, Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey, 121
5. Rhumb Line, Frank Alexander, Eibar Coa, 121
6. Roar Emotion, Carlos Martin, Jose Santos, 121