J. Paul Reddam’s Mistical Plan upset even-money favorite Dream Rush to win the $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares at Calder Race Course July 12 as part of the Florida track’s Summit of Speed program.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Doug O’Neill, Mistical Plan ran alongside front-running Dream Rush for much of the six-furlong race. She gradually took control from Dream Rush in the stretch and drew away to win by 5 ¾ lengths. Miraculous Miss, well back early, rallied for second and finished a quarter-length ahead of Dream Rush.
Fractions for the race on a fast track were :21.78 for the first quarter-mile, :44.93 for a half-mile, and 1:10.76 for six furlongs.
Mistical Plan, a California-bred 4-year-old filly by Game Plan out of the Bel Bolide mare Mistical Bel, automatically qualifies for the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The Princess Rooney was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race.
“Mr. Reddam and I have always been real high on this filly, but I think she exceeded our expectations today,” said Doug O’Neill, trainer of Mistical Plan. “She has displayed enough talent, winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) as a 3-year-old, and has shown excellence in routes and sprints. I think the game plan will be to stay with the sprints now.
“This race is placed perfectly on the calendar. It gives you a chance to get your feet wet against the best in the country. We’ll keep her in the East for one more race before heading back West. I’ll talk to Mr. Reddam, but I know we’re considering the Ballerina (grade I at seven furlongs at Saratoga Aug. 24).”
“We were looking to break sharp, which she did, and then get some position,” Nakatani said. “It worked out perfectly, and we got the trip we wanted to get. I’ve had success with her going both short and long, and I think sprinting is going to wind up being her best game.”
Mistical Plan paid $18.20 to win. The Princess Rooney marked her first victory of 2008 in four starts. She hadn’t won since last year’s Fair Grounds Oaks in March.
Mistical Plan, bred by Carol Anderson, has won five of 14 career starts.