A smile from Juan Leyva, as Musical Romance takes the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

A smile from Juan Leyva, as Musical Romance takes the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

Skip Dickstein

Musical Romance Upset Winner of F&M Sprint

The daughter of Concorde's Tune triumphs by 1 1/4 lengths.

Pinnacle Racing Stable and trainer Bill Kaplan’s 20-1 longshot Musical Romance pulled away on the inside in the stretch to take the $909,000 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs (VIDEO) .

Switch and Her Smile came charging late on the far outside, but Musical Romance (by Concorde's Tune) won by 1 ¼ lengths, covering the seven furlongs in 1:23.47 under jockey Juan Leyva.

Switch, second in last year's Filly & Mare Sprint, edged Her Smile by a head to be second once again. It was another 2 ½ lengths farther back to Pomeroys Pistol. Favored Turbulent Descent finished fifth after a troubled trip that included getting squeezed at the start.

Musical Romance broke second and was challenging the early front-runner Golden Mystery, who completed a quarter mile in :22.40. After a half mile in :45.71, Musical Romance was running in fourth. At mid-stretch, Musical Romance was third, battling for the lead, with Turbulent Descent and Pomeroys Pistol, but she proved to be the strongest. Switch and Her Smile then blew by Musical Romance’s former challengers as the wire neared.

“This filly, I  just need to let her do whatever she wants to do in the beginning," Leyva said, "and down the lane I need to get into her a little bit, but I always try to save enough with her for the end.

"She broke really alert like she always does. She acted like she was running off at first but I got her to settle and when she did that, I knew I still had plenty of horse. I saw Turbulent Decent and Pomeroys Pistol move and I thought they moved a little early, but I like to hold on to my horse as long as I can because she has a short run.”

The victory improved Musical Romance’s career record to nine wins in 33 career races. The 4-year-old filly previously had captured five added-money events, including this year’s Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II). In her most recent start Oct. 8, she was second by a head to Holiday for Kitten in Keeneland's six-furlong Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack.

Musical Romance has raced 14 times in 2011, winning five.

The winning purse, $540,000, boosted Musical Romance's career bankroll to $1,217,850.

Kaplan, as agent for Pinnacle, purchased Musical Romance for $22,000 from her breeder, Ocala Stud, agent, at the 2009 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.

"She’s just awesome," said an overjoyed Kaplan. "She’s getting better and better and better. I don’t care if she runs 13 or 14 times a year, she gets better with every shot. I was confident she’d run good, but I didn’t know she would beat these horses. She has such speed and she can place herself wherever she wants to. And when Juan wants her to go, she just goes. This is it, this is the pinnacle!”

Florida-bred Musical Romance, who is out of the Slew Gin Fizz mare Candlelightdinner, paid $42.40, $15.60, and $8.60. Switch returned $4.80 and $3.40. Her Smile paid $12.40.

“I thought she had a very unfortunate trip," trainer John Sadler said of Switch. "She didn't break all that well. She was last, and had to come wide. I thought she was the best horse in the race.”

Trainer Mike Puype lamented a rough trip for Turbulent Descent, who led narrowly at mid-stretch before weakening.

“She got slammed leaving the gate. She got slammed leaving the backside," Puype said. "Then it made her eager and she pulled her way right up to the leader, moved too early, and then she flattened out after all that. She couldn’t sustain a good run. She just didn’t have a good trip at all. It’s her first bad race. (This is) the wrong day to have it, but it happens and we’ve just got to move on.”

Veterinarians advised stewards to scratch Shotgun Gulch from the Filly & Mare Sprint at the starting gate, reducing the field to 12, because she was "off on the left forelimb," according to Dr. C. Wayne McIlwraith, an on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners.;