Jockey Hugo Sanchez Back Galloping Horses to Prepare for Return
The Manny Azpurua-trained 3-year-old filly, coming off a pair of second-place finishes in Grade 1 stakes at Saratoga, is set for Saturday’s $100,000 Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The 6 ½-furlong sprint for fillies and mares will serve as a prep for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
“I wanted to run her in Florida again before the big race on the West Coast. I prefer to stay at Gulfstream and run in this race. She’s doing great.” Azpurua said. “We won’t have to move around again, because she traveled twice to Saratoga.”
Wildcat Lily first ventured to Saratoga for the Prioress, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies in which she set a pressured pace before faltering late to lose by a half-length to Lighthouse Bay. The Florida-bred filly returned to Gulfstream to prepare for the prestigious Test, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Upon her return to Saratoga, Wildcat Lily rated just off the pace before taking the lead in mid-stretch, only to fall to Sweet Lulu by a head.
“I believe she was a little unlucky in those two races,” Azpurua said. “She ran a beautiful race in each one.”
Wildcat Lily had closed out the winter meeting at Gulfstream with a victory in an entry-level allowance race at 22-1 on March 28. Since posting her second victory in her 11th career race, the daughter of D’wildcat has finished no worse than second in seven subsequent starts while steadily advancing into Grade 1 company.
“If I told you I thought she was going to be this good, I just lied to you. I knew she was going to be a good filly, and I told the owner that. But as good as she is right now? No,” Azpurua said. “I always say with the horses growing up, ‘The only one who knows how far he can go is the horse.’ ”
Wildcat Lily, who will break from the rail post position under jockey Jose Alvarez, is rated second at 5-2 in the morning line for the Musical Romance. Starship Truffles, a Grade 1 stakes winner who is one of four Marty Wolfson-trained horses entered in the Musical Romance, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
Hugo Sanchez Back Galloping Horses, Readying for Return
Sidelined since July 27, jockey Hugo Sanchez started exercising horses this week in preparation for a return to race-riding, likely next month.
Sanchez, who suffered compressed vertebrae in a spill and was fitted with a brace, was the leading rider at the Gulfstream Park summer meeting with 11 wins from 36 mounts (31 percent) at the time of the spill.
“I’m feeling better now, way better,” Sanchez said. “I just started going to the track this week to gallop a couple horses to get fit. I plan to breeze a couple next week.”
Sanchez won’t return to afternoon action before an important doctor’s appointment on Oct. 15.
“I guess after that I’ll be able to start riding again,” Sanchez said.
The 21-year-old jockey said it felt great to get back up on a horse this week, but that he didn’t want to rush his recovery.
“I was just taking it easy at home,” the Miramar resident said. “It’s just taken a little time so I can recover, so when I come back, I’ll be able to ride the same as I did before I got hurt.”