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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Bo Hirsch homebred Ce Ce shipped into town from California and dominated her rivals in Saturday’s $350,000 Princess Rooney Invitational Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The Princess Rooney is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Ce Ce receiving an automatic berth in the Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar this November.
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Ce Ce broke from post 5 under regular rider Victor Espinoza as the 5/2 second choice and settled into a mid-pack stalking position as Thissmytime led inside Pacific Gale and Sound Machine through opening fractions of :22.47 and :44.90.
Pacific Gale took sole command entering the far turn, but the 6/5 favorite Estilo Talentoso split horses and made a three-wide bid around Sound Machine near the top of the stretch.
Espinoza waited to time Ce Ce’s move until midway through cornering, then sent her between Sound Machine and Estilo Talentoso with a flourish.
Quickly leaving Estilo Talentoso and the rest of the field in her dust, the Michael McCarthy trainee drew off before crossing 3 1/4 lengths much the best while stopping the clock in 1:21.94 for the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint.
“She’s pretty impressive,” Espinoza said. “She loves this track, it’s a little different than what she’s been running at. Today, she ran her race. They were rolling, the ones in front of me. I know they’re going to get tired turning for home, so I just gave her enough time to split the horses.”
Estilo Talentoso managed to grind out second by a head over Sound Machine, who was 3 1/2 lengths clear of a photo for fourth that went to Hallawallah by a nose over Pacific Gale.
Laura’s Light, Heiressall, and Thissmytime completed the order of finish in the field of older fillies and mares.
Ce Ce’s win was her third at the stakes ranks following Grade 1 triumphs last year in the Beholder Mile and the Apple Blossom. The 5-year-old Elusive Quality mare’s record improved to 13-6-1-2 with $1,113,100 earned.
“I thought she was overlooked last year,” McCarthy said. “She won 2 Grade 1 races back to back. After that, we just couldn’t find a track that was suitable for her. She was running on tracks in California that were a little bit deep and a little bit loose. She wants one that is a bit firmer and faster, and we found that today.”
Ce Ce returned $7.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Estilo Talentoso brought back $2.60 to place and $2.20 to show. Sound Machine paid $5 to show.
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