Farnsworth Stables’ Jessica Is Back rallied from off the pace and caught Warbling in deep stretch to win the $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) by two lengths (VIDEO) July 10 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
It was the first graded win for Jessica Is Back, a former claimer. The daughter of Put It Back also earned an automatic berth in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Elvis Trujillo was aboard the 6-year-old mare for trainer Marty Wolfson, who sent out four of the 13 starters in the six-furlong Princess Rooney, which was the headliner on Calder’s Summit of Speed program.
Sixth in the 2009 Rooney in her graded stakes debut, Jessica is Back raced fourth in the early going behind grade I winner Dr. Zic and Warbling, a pair of 4-year-olds shipping in from Kentucky. Warbling, under Julien Leparoux, took over on the turn and opened up a commanding 3 1/2-length lead at the top of the stretch.
But the fast opening splits, :21.87 and :45.44, took its toll on the 4-year-old Unbridled's Song filly, and set up a late run for Jessica Is Back, who angled outside of the leader for the stretch drive and caught her inside the sixteenth pole to win going away.
The winner completed the distance over the fast dirt in 1:11.48. Warbling, the 2-1 favorite, was one length in front of third-place Dubai Majesty. Don'ttalktome was fourth.
“I think this mare had a little bit of an advantage over some of the others since she has run very well at this track all of her life,” said Trujillo, referring to the winner’s seventh win in 18 starts at Calder. “The two horses that set the pace went fast early and that played into our hands. It paid to just sit and wait, so around the turn I knew I had a lot of horse, and I sat chilly until we straightened out, then let her go on from there.”
Jessica Is Back was third last out in the June 12 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs after setting the pace and being swallowed by Rachel Alexandra. Two starts before that she won the Ocala Stakes by nine lengths at Gulfstream Park.
Overall, the chestnut mare is 12-13-3 from 44 starts and has earned $771,765. She has been claimed twice, most recently by Farnsworth back in April 2009 for $50,000.
“I was confident she’d run good today turning back (in distance),” said Wolfson of Jessica Is Back, who was sprinting for the first time in her last 10 starts. “But she had run some good races sprinting as a 4-year-old and, in this race last year, she just about got pushed over the fence. You have to see the replay to see how bad it was.
"She can’t run with Rachel (Alexandra), although she did for a little while in that last race. I’ll keep her here and look around for the right spot. She’s very versatile, so there are plenty of options.”
The winner, who was bred in Florida by Larry Perkins and is out of the Jolie's Halo mare Jessica's Halo, paid $19, $7.40, and $5.40. The exacta (3-9) returned $80 and the trifecta (3-9-8) was $545.20.