HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Forum Racing’s Birdatthewire has brought Grade 1 credentials and a proven track record back to Gulfstream Park for a scheduled start in the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) on Saturday’s $1.125 million Summit of Speed card.
The 4-year-old daughter of Summer Bird, who is scheduled to face seven fillies and mares in the seven-furlong sprint that will co-feature Saturday’s program with the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G2), has excelled in three races over the Gulfstream surface. The Dale Romans-trained filly captured the Forward Gal (G2), lost a photo-finish while finishing second in the Davona Dale (G2) and won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G3) during the 2014-2015 Championship Meet.
“She really likes the track at Gulfstream. There’s a nice purse and it’s a ‘Win & You’re In’ race,” said Romans, noting his reasons for shipping Birdatthewire from Kentucky to South Florida for the Summit of Speed.
The Princess Rooney and the Smile Sprint, two of nine stakes on Saturday’s 13-race program with a 12:15 p.m. first post, are designated as Breeders’ Cup ‘Win & You’re In,’ races. Should Birdatthewire capture the Princess Rooney, she’d be guaranteed a entry fee-paid berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
It was at Santa Anita where Birdatthewire earned her Grade 1 credentials last December in the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes with a last-to-first half-length triumph.
“She ran a big race that day. They outsprinted her, she just settled and came running. Hopefully, the same thing will happen this week,” said Romans, who also saddled the Kentucky-bred mare for a second-place finish in the La Canada (G2) at 1 1/16 miles.
The distance of the Princess Rooney has been changed for this year’s running from six furlongs to seven furlongs.
“She’s shown she’s better around one turn, seven-eighths to a mile, that’s another reason to be there,” Romans said.
Birdatthewire has been training sharply since a fifth-place finish in the Humana (G1) at Churchill and a fourth-place finish in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland.
“There’s a lot of room for her to get better,” said Romans, who named Tyler Gaffalione to ride Birdatthewire for the first time.
Seajay Racing’s Spelling Again has also shipped from Churchill Downs to Gulfstream for the Princess Rooney. The Brad Cox-trained 5-year-old mare is coming off a late-running third-place finish in the Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill, beaten less than a length by dead-heat winners Diva Express and I’m a Looker.
Claimed for $40,000 at Santa Anita 13 months ago, Spelling Again has developed into a graded-stakes performer with a Grade 2 victory on her resume. The daughter of Awesome Again captured the Chulukki (G2) at Churchill by 4 ½ lengths last November.
“She’s definitely made [the claiming price] back several times with the purse money,” said Cox, who named Luis Saez to ride Spelling Again. “She has the big-time residual now as a broodmare, being a multiple graded stakes-placed mare and Grade 2 stakes winner. When it’s time for her to be retired, my clients will be rewarded for the savvy claim. She’ll be a good broodmare.”
Trainer Marty Wolfson is scheduled to saddle a pair of solid broodmare prospects – Kiss to Remember and Cali Star – for the Princess Rooney. Miller Racing’s Kiss to Remember finished a late-closing third behind Merry Meadow and Flutterby in last year’s Princess Rooney.
“She finished third at three-quarters last year, this year it’s seven-eighths, that’s why I’m running her,” Wolfson said.
The 5-year-old daughter of Big Brown followed up her Princess Rooney effort with an easy triumph in the Monroe Handicap at Gulfstream before finishing second in the Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga.
Kiss to Remember is coming off three straight second-place finishes, the most recent coming on turf in the Amelia Island June 4.
“She’s a good grass mare, but I think now she’s better on dirt,” Wolfson said. “She seems to be back to where she was. She went back to the farm, and she got heavy on me. When you gain weight like she did, it’s different than if it’s a colt. I can knock the weight off a colt. It’s tough to knock it off a mare you don’t train hard.”
Cali Star, who is set to make her first start since being purchased by WinStar Farm, blossomed upon joining Wolfson’s stable last fall, when she captured an allowance race at Gulfstream Park West by five lengths before scoring a three-length decision in the Rampart (G3) at Gulfstream Dec. 12. The 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry went on to finish second in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) at Sam Houston, only to turn in a subpar fifth in the Heavenly Prize Invitational at Aqueduct March 5 and fall after crossing the finish line.
“It was really strange. She stumbled and (Irad) Ortiz (Jr.) came off. Nothing happened, except she got a few cuts on her knee,” Wolfson said. “I thought she’d win that race. She was favored, but she didn’t handle the track at all.”
Wolfson expects Cali Star to fire off the four-month layoff following a pair of bullet workouts.
“I think she fits good if she runs back to her races here – the Rampart was a very strong win,” he said. “If she runs back to that, she’ll run really good Saturday. “
Emisael Jaramillo has the mount on Kiss to Remember, while Cornelio Velasquez has the call on Cali Star.
Farfellow Farm’s Concealedwithakiss, who defeated Kiss to Remember in back-to-back main-track allowance races, is set to make her stakes debut in the Princess Rooney. Trained by Luis Duco, the 4-year-old daughter of Political Force is scheduled to be ridden by Christian Navarro.
Orylana Farm’s My Miss Venezuela, who captured the Sea Lily Stakes in front-running fashion June 4, is slated to step into graded-stakes competition for the first time in the Princess Rooney. Rafael Hernandez has the mount aboard the Bruno Tessore-trained 4-year-old filly.
Trainer David Fawkes withdrew multiple-Grade 1 winner Sheer Drama from Princess Rooney consideration.
“She’s just not as good as she needs to be. She just needs a little bit more time. We tried. It just wouldn’t be right. We’ll give her more time and look for something down the road,” said Fawkes, whose trainee finished fifth in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont June 11. “She just didn’t bounce back out of her last race like I’d like see her. It’s a little too quick back for her. Otherwise, she’s doing great.”
Instead, Fawkes will saddle Willow Hills for a start in the Princess Rooney. The stakes-placed 5-year-old mare is set to make her 2016 debut Saturday.
“She’s a nice filly. She’s coming off a layoff. Hopefully, she’s fit enough, but it’s time to run,” said Fawkes, who named Juan Leyva to ride the daughter of Distorted Humor. “She’s a nice filly and she’s been training great, doing everything great.”
Lauren Wypyszynski’s Be Mind Phil, a recent allowance winner, rounds out the field.