Trio of graded stakes at Summit of Speed
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – That collective sigh of relief heard from the Gulfstream Park racing office and points north on Wednesday came from the connections of seven of the eight fillies and mares entered in Saturday’s Grade 2 Princess Rooney once they learned that the multiple Grade 1 winner Sheer Drama will not be in the race.
The Princess Rooney was one of the three graded stakes on Saturday’s Summit of Speed program to be drawn Wednesday, along with the Grade 2 Smile Sprint and Grade 3 Carry Back.
Trainer David Fawkes briefly contemplated bringing Sheer Drama back on short rest for the Princess Rooney, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Fawkes still will be represented in the seven-furlong Princess Rooney by the lightly raced Willow Hills, who makes her 2016 debut.
“It would have obviously been a very good spot for her, especially since she could walk right out of her stall into the starting gate,” Fawkes said when asked about his decision not to start Sheer Drama. “But in the end, it would just have been too quick a turnaround. I’m going to give her a little break, freshen her up a bit, and point for the Ballerina later this summer at Saratoga.”
With Sheer Drama out, Birdatthewire becomes the only Grade 1 winner in the lineup for the Princess Rooney. Birdatthewire captured the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita in her 3-year-old finale on Dec. 26 but has gone winless in four subsequent starts, most recently finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs.
Spelling Again joined Birdatthewire on Wednesday’s flight from Kentucky to south Florida for the Princess Rooney. A Grade 2 winner, Spelling Again finished a troubled third, beaten less than a length, in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill on May 28.
The local contingent will be headed by the Marty Wolfsontrained duo of Cali Star and Kiss to Remember.
The Grade 2 Smile Sprint, a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, drew seven starters, topped by the David Jacobson-trained pair of Chief Lion and Eighty Three, who was supplemented into the race. Limousine Liberal, who finished 11th in the 2015 BC Sprint, and Delta Bluesman will also ship in for the six-furlong dash, which, like the Princess Rooney, offers a purse of $250,000.
Awesome Banner will be the odds-on favorite in the sevenfurlong Carry Back, which lured seven 3-year-olds, including Kentucky invader Rated R Superstar for trainer Ken Mcpeek. Awesome Banner got back on the winning track last month with an easy victory in the Big Cypress Stakes, the final local prep for the Carry Back.
Rated R Superstar, third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at 2, snapped a seven-race losing streak with an allowance win at Churchill Downs in his last start.
Belmont: Mother Goose
The Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose on Saturday at Belmont Park has drawn a field of seven 3-year-old fillies, including Rachel’s Valentina, Lewis Bay, and Lightstream, all of whom will have their share of supporters.
Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Rachel’s Valentina, also has entered Off the Tracks and Mo d’amour in the 1 1/16-mile race.
The field also includes Mom’s On Strike, trained by Joe Sharp, and Linda Mimi, who is conditioned by Gustavo Delgado.
Rachel’s Valentina, the second of two foals produced by Horse of the Year and 2009 Mother Goose winner Rachel Alexandra, finished second in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland and then weakened to finish sixth four weeks later in the Kentucky Oaks.
She has had eight weeks to recover from those races and Pletcher has worked her five times at Belmont Park for this.
Lewis Bay finished third after making the lead entering the stretch of the Kentucky Oaks for trainer Chad Brown. She won the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct prior to the Oaks.
Lightstream is undefeated in three starts for trainer Brian Lynch. She has won a sevenfurlong maiden race at Gulfstream, an about seven-furlong allowance at Keeneland, and the seven-furlong Soaring Softly Stakes on turf at Belmont.
Santa Anita: Affirmed Stakes
ARCADIA, Calif. – Danzing Candy, who finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, is scheduled to have his first start for trainer Bob Baffert in Saturday’s $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Danzing Candy was transferred from trainer Cliff Sise to Baffert in the days after the Kentucky Derby by owners Jim and Dianne Bashor and Ted Aroney. In the Kentucky Derby, Danzing Candy set the pace to the final turn and faded through the final furlong to finish 20 lengths behind the winner, Nyquist.
Danzing Candy won consecutive starts at Santa Anita earlier this year, including the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes in March. Danzing Candy was later fourth in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9, a race won by Exaggerator, who was second in the Kentucky Derby and won the Preakness Stakes.
Danzing Candy is expected to be part of a small field in the Grade 3 Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles. Other projected starters are Beaumarchais, Curlin Rules, and Dalmore, none of whom has won a stakes.