HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Roddy J. Valente, RAP Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Coach Rocks returned to the site of her Valentine’s Day maiden-breaking romp to score a much bigger (and much wider) win in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks.
Breaking from post 2 under Luis Saez, Coach Rocks saved ground and settled near the rear early while Eight Thirtyone and the favored Take Charge Paula took turns setting initial splits of :23.47, :47.27, and 1:12.22. Coach Rocks commenced her bid heading into the far turn, then swung out at least five-wide into the stretch. Continuing to run wide down the middle of the track, the Dale Romans trainee kicked home swiftly to take the 1 1/16-mile main track event by 1 1/2 lengths over Take Charge Paula in a final time of 1:44.63.
“What a rough trip,” Saez said. “My plan was to break and be right up front, first or second, but there was a lot of speed in the race. Thankfully, when we got to the 3/8-pole, it got clear and she took off. When we came to the stretch, I thought the horse to beat was going to go, but my filly kicked fine, and thank God we passed them.”
Some 10 lengths behind the top-finishing duo, Princess Warrior took third, well clear of Tell Your Mama by 3 1/2 lengths. Fifth went to Alter Moon, with Blonde Bomber, Cache, Silver Bay, Mihrab, Daisy, and a very much fading Eight Thirtyone completing the order of finish. C. S. Incharge and Heavenhasmynikki were scratched.
The Gulfstream Park Oaks is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Coach Rocks earned 100 points for the win, with Take Charge Paula receiving 40 for second, Princess Warrior 10 for third, and Tell Your Mama 5 for fourth.
Coach Rocks’ win, her second straight after going zero-for-six to begin her career, improved her record to 8-2-3-1 with earnings of $225,682. The daughter of Oxbow, purchased at auction last March for $95,000, gave Romans his third Gulfstream Park Oaks victory in the past four years.
“I know she’s fit and distance wasn’t an issue, so I thought she would grind them down,” Romans said. “We dropped down and saved ground. It looked like Luis got stopped a little bit on the backside when one backed up into his face. He had to go around, but it all worked out. Good horses overcome bad trips and win good races. She figured the game out. I never expected her to lose. Every time I’ve brought her over, I thought she would win. It took time for her to figure it out that she is as good as she is.”
Coach Rocks returned $7.60 to win, $4 to place, and $3 to show. Take Charge Paula brought back $3.60 to place and $2.60 to show, while Princess Warrior paid $3 to show.