HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Curlin’s Approval overwhelmed 10 rivals with a 4 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Princess Rooney at Gulfstream Park, earning a fees-paid berth in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar on November 4.
The Princess Rooney was a designated Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, as was the Grade 3, $250,000 Smile Sprint, on Saturday’s Summit of Speed program that offered seven stakes (three graded) worth a total of $1 million in purses.
“She made us proud, like she has in her other graded stakes,” said breeder and co-owner Happy Alter. “We put the speed back in her with the (work) in :57 and change. We wanted her to go about :59, but she’s such a special filly that she went faster than the designed time, but it didn’t hurt her. Then she blew out in :35 for the race and just has been showing all the class a filly could show. We’re proud of her. It’s nice to win here, in front of people that we know. I know they’ll be rooting for us when we go to the Breeders’ Cup, too.”
“Some people thought she might have been off form, but I thought she needed freshening without sending her out,” said Alter. “We freshened her with light training here. If you look back for this race from her last race, it was almost a month for a breeze. We had all that rain, and I didn’t want to risk her even galloping some days, so we were able to catch up with the three sharp breezes, and her heart led us here.”
The 4-year-old filly, who had turned in subpar showings in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Matron at Churchill Downs in her two most recent starts, was sharp Saturday, pressing the pace set by Kinsley Kisses into the homestretch before drawing away from the field under jockey Luis Saez.
“She had a very good trip,” said Saez. “We were right there. I know (Kinsley Kisses) had speed, so the plan was to break and be right there and see what happens. When we came to the stretch, she gave me everything.”
Curlin’s Approval gave trainer Marty Wolfson his fifth victory in the Princess Rooney, joining Starship Truffles (2013), Jessica Is Back (2010), Chaposa Springs (1996), and Miss Gibson County (1995).
Making her first start since winning the Inside Information on March 18, Distinta stalked the pace before closing for a distant second-place finish, a 1/2-length ahead of a late-running Lightstream, the 3-2 favorite. Dearest, Birdatthewire, Wheatfield, Kinsley Kisses, Patriotic Diamond, Money Or Love, More Than a Party, and Concealedwithakiss completed the order of finish.
Curlin’s Approval returned $11, $6, and $3.60. Distinta brought back $9 and $5, while Lightstream paid $2.60 to show.