A small field of seven fillies and mares will contest the 2019 edition of the $250,000 Princess Rooney Stakes (G2) this Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The race is one of five stakes on a card dubbed annually as the track’s “Summit of Speed” program.
The headlining horse in this year’s event is Stormy Embrace, the defending champion who won last season at odds of 15-1. She parlayed her automatic berth in the Breedres’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint into an 11th-place finish against a quality field. Since that effort, she has been no worse than third in three starts, including a dominating win last time out in the $100,000 Musical Romance Stakes here at Gulfstream Park. The Florida-bred mare loves this track, having won 3 of her last 6 starts over the South Florida oval.
The winner of the Princess Rooney Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Princess Rooney Stakes serves as the one of five stakes races on the card at Gulfstream Park, which also includes the Smile Sprint Stakes (G3). Although it is not a challenge series race it could still produce a Breeders’ Cup contender or two. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on July 6 at Belmont Park with the running of the John A. Nerud Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” event for the TwinSpires Sprint.
The full field from the rail out includes: Razorback Lady, Trenchtown Cat, Royal Asscher, Saguaro Row, Reagan’s Rose, Stormy Embrace, and Weekend Mischief.
#6 Stormy Embrace – Last year’s winner is back to do it again. Don’t look for her to go off at 15/1, though, as she will likely be favored in this spot after a dominating performance last time out in the $100,000 Musical Romance Stakes. She is the only horse in the field that has Breeders’ Cup experience, and Gulfstream Park is by far her favorite track, which only makes her that much more dangerous. Retaining the mount is Wilmer Garcia, the same jockey who piloted her to victory last season.
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#1 Razorback Lady – It’s not often that you see Arkansas-breds have success outside of their home track of Oaklawn Park, but Razorback Lady has bucked that trend her entire career. The 4-year-old filly has never even raced at Oaklawn Park, instead making all of her starts at Gulfstream Park. She has picked up 3 wins in 11 tries here and finished second in the Inside Information Stakes (G2) two races back. Last time out, she once again finished second in a stakes race, losing to fellow rival Trenchtown Cat in the $75,000 Ana T. Stakes.
#5 Reagan’s Rose – She will look to improve after knocking the rust off last time out in the $75,000 Nicole’s Dream Stakes at Gulfstream Park. That start did not go well, as she finished fifth while defeated by a wide margin. However, that was her first start off of a long layoff, so she has every right to improve in this spot. All three of her career victories have come at Gulfstream Park.
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#3 Royal Asscher – Three races back, trainer Gustavo Delgado claimed this mare for $12,500, and she has already turned into a solid purchase. In her first race for her new connections, she defeated allowance company by over 7 lengths, then one start later again defeated allowance company by the same margin. Those two blowout victories earned her the right to take on tougher company in what will be her first-ever start in a graded stakes event.
#4 Saguaro Row – As a 3-year-old, this filly finished sixth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), losing to some stout horses in that spot. After that race, she disappeared for over a year before returning at Keeneland in April of this year in an allowance event going 6 furlongs. An easy winner in that spot, she moved to Belmont Park, where she once again defeated allowance horses relatively easy. Those types of victories have her poised for another try at graded stakes company in a logical move.
#2 Trenchtown Cat – After four straight starts on the turf, Trenchtown Cat moved to the dirt for what turned into a runaway victory in the $75,000 Ana T. Stakes here at Gulfstream Park. In what was this 3-year-old filly’s first start against older horses, she also won at a very nice price of 8/1. Now she moves up to graded stakes competition for the first time, while also slightly stretching out to 7 furlongs.
#7 Weekend Mischief – This filly has been rotating between the turf and the dirt on a regular basis lately, and here, she finds herself back on the main track while also cutting back in distance compared to her last five starts. All four of her career wins have come on this surface.