In step with the trend from recent years, the July 7 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) at Calder Casino & Race Course has attracted a field of mostly local horses, highlighted by reigning champion female sprinter Musical Romance.
A full field of 11 was drawn for the $400,000, six-furlong contest for older fillies and mares, six of which are from the barn of trainer Marty Wolfson.
The Princess Rooney, named for the Hall of Fame filly Princess Rooney, is the 11th race on the card with an approximate post time of 5:42 p.m. EDT. A grade I event since 2006, it is preceded by the Carry Back (gr. III), Azalea (gr. III), and Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. III).
HRTV will be onsite to cover the Summit of Speed, while the Horse Racing Radio Network will provide live coverage trackside. HRRN’s coverage from 4-6 p.m. will air on Sirius channel 92 as well as on select HRRN affiliates and online with live streaming provided on HRRN’s site.
In spite of Musical Romance's stellar resume, which includes victories in the 2011 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I) at odds of 20-1 and most recently the March 17 Inside Information (gr. II), co-owner Adam Lazarus is still feeling anxious about her chances in the Princess Rooney.
"We’re really nervous going in…we hope she performs well," said Lazarus, who campaigns the daughter of Concorde's Tune under his Pinnacle Racing Stables banner in partnership with trainer Bill Kaplan. "She's coming into the race as good as you would want her to be, but with sprint races, anything can happen."
Lazarus noted the 5-year-old mare's biggest threat is most likely the David Fawkes-trained mare Nicole H, who tuned up for the race by breezing a half-mile in 48.78 at Calder July 2. The New York-based daughter of Mr. Greeley is one of only two shippers in the field.
"She may be the fastest horse in the field, numbers-wise," said Lazarus of Nicole H, a five-time stakes winner at Aqueduct for Gem Inc. who enters the Princess Rooney off a close second in the June 2 Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II). "She'll be a formidable horse to try and beat."
Lazarus said the Princess Rooney would be a bittersweet race as it would most likely be the last time Musical Romance would compete at Calder, her home base. "The goal is to get to the Breeders’ Cup as fresh and ready to go as possible…it's up to her whether that’s one more prep race or two," said Lazarus of the mare, who will probably retire from racing to become a broodmare at the end of the year.
Musical Romance has won once in four starts this year and enters the Princess Rooney off a distant second to Groupie Doll in the May 5 Humana Distaff (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. Bred by Ocala Stud, she is out of the Slew Gin Fizz mare Candlelightdinner.
When working at Calder June 29, Musical Romance covered four furlongs in :46 1/5 and was listed as the fastest of 40 horses that worked that day. She will break from post 5 under regular jockey Juan Leyva. The mare, who holds a record of 10-6-7 from 37 starts and has earnings of $1,394,575, carries top weight of 122 pounds.
All are stakes-placed, with Golden Mystery being the only black-type winner of the group. The daughter of Awesome Again, who captured the 2011 Mongo Queen Stakes at Monmouth Park, has placed in three of her four starts this year and enters the Princess Rooney off a runner up effort in a six-furlong allowance optional claiming contest at Delaware Park June 27.
Golden Mystery is owned by Farnsworth Stables, which also campaigns Beloveda and Spectacular Sky.
Beloveda, perhaps the most accomplished of Wolfson group, rolled to an impressive 7 3/4-length victory in her most recent start, a 6 1/2-furlong starter allowance contest at Calder. The daughter of Ghostzapper has won or placed in six of her seven starts this year, including a respectable second behind Awesome Maria in the March 31 Rampart (gr. III).
Also worth a mention is Indulgence, who rallied from off the pace to secure the third-place spot behind winner Sassy Image in last year's Princess Rooney. The daughter of Macho Uno most recently ran fourth in a pair of stakes at Calder in June.
Right Time Racing's Bouquet Booth, the only other shipper in the Princess Rooney, makes her first start at Calder after campaigning in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Indiana the last three years.
The 4-year-old daughter of Flower Alley was a powerful, six-length winner when cutting back to six furlongs for a top-shelf allowance race at Churchill Downs in her last May 24. She breezed an easy three furlongs at Calder July 1, covering the trip in :39 flat.
Trained by Steve Margolis, Bouquet Booth scored her big win in the 2010 Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III).
$400,000 Princess Rooney (gr. I, Race 11, 5:42 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Spectacular Sky (KY), J V Bridgmohan, 115, M D Wolfson
2. Beloveda (KY), L Saez, 115, MD Wolfson
3. Golden Mystery (FL), W Martinez, 115, MD Wolfson
4. Flying Trip (FL), A Moreno, 114, G Zerpa
5. Musical Romance (FL), J C Leyva, 122, W A Kaplan
6. Nakano (KY), J I Rodriguez,113, M D Wolfson
7. Bouquet Booth (KY), S Bridgmohan, 117, S Margolis
8. Indulgence (FL), J L Alvarez, 115, M D Wolfson
9. Nicole H (KY), C H Velasquez, 118, D Fawkes
10. Wild Bout Tiffany (FL), M R Cruz, 116, W A Kaplan
11. Leopard Rock (KY), Z Santana, 114, MD Wolfson