“Pretty much all of the top [female sprinters] besides Groupie Doll will be in Saturday’s race,” said Eric Fein, owner of C C’s Pal, 8-1 on the morning line. “It’s like a Breeders’ Cup in September.”
A 1 ¼-length winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course, Turbulent Descent has won Grade 1 races at the ages of 2, 3, and 4, having captured the 2010 Hollywood Starlet and 2011 Santa Anita Oaks and Test while under the care of trainer Mike Puype. She was purchased by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith after winning her 2012 debut, the Desert Stormer Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park in June, and was sent from California to train with Todd Pletcher in New York.
After Turbulent Descent came from midpack to win the Ballerina, her connections considered training her up to the Filly & Mare Sprint before electing to compete in the Gallant Bloom.
“We felt like she came out of the Ballerina well and we still have six weekends from now until the Breeders’ Cup,” said Pletcher. “I think she may need another race to be really spot-on for the Breeders’ Cup. She’s in good form and doing well. It was nice winning the Ballerina with her, and it’s pretty rare seeing a horse who can win Grade 1s at 2, 3, and 4. It’s a special accomplishment.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Turbulent Descent, assigned 121 pounds, from post position 10.
Pletcher also entered WinStar Farm’s Mildly Offensive in the Gallant Bloom, but did not commit to running her. Like Turbulent Descent, Mildly Offensive was based in California before she was purchased privately and transferred to Pletcher. In her lone start for her new connections, she won the restricted Big Bambu by a half-length on August 31 at Saratoga.
“We’ll survey the draw and look at the race and decide whether we’ll run Mildly Offensive or not,” said Pletcher. “Looking at it in her case, she seems to specialize in running on wet tracks.”
ffensive, weighted at 116 pounds and 20-1 on the morning line, drew post 6. Christopher DeCarlo has the call.
Musical Romance, the reigning Champion Female Sprinter, is using the Gallant Bloom as her final prep for a title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
After winning five of 14 starts in 2011, including a 1 ¼-length triumph in the Breeders’ Cup, Musical Romance has had a less busy schedule in 2012 with two wins in five races. She enters Saturday’s race off a half-length score in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap on July 7 at Calder Race Course, her home track.
Difficulty in arranging transportation and Musical Romance’s championship status contributed to the lighter schedule, said trainer Bill Kaplan, who owns the 5-year-old in partnership with Pinnacle Racing Stables. Musical Romance arrived at Belmont early on Saturday after vanning up from Florida.
“She had a stall in the van that was larger than her stall at the track,” said Kaplan. “She was the only one who breezed [on the main track] yesterday, and she went [three furlongs in 35.89]. We’re ready to go. This year, we wanted to build towards running her again the Breeders’ Cup. Now that she’s a champion we didn’t need to run in the smaller stakes.”
Juan Leyva will come in to ride Musical Romance, the 122-pound highweight who drew post 9 and was made the 5-2 morning-line second choice.
C C’s Pal looks to post back-to-back wins for the first time since taking the Garland of Roses in December and the Ladies Handicap in January at Aqueduct Racetrack. Following those races she has posted a record of 2-2-2 in six starts. In her most recent effort, she took Saratoga’s Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap by a neck on August 3.
“She’s got a lot of heart,” said Eric Fein. “We’ve figured out she’s best sprinting and we’ve kept her in one-turn races. Every horse should be like her. It doesn’t matter where you run her, and while she’s better sprinting you can also run her in routes. There are a million spots where you can run her.”
A strong effort in the Gallant Bloom could propel the Rick Dutrow, Jr. trainee to the Breeders’ Cup, Fein said.
“Saturday’s race will give us a better indication, but I don’t see why she wouldn’t run well at Santa Anita,” said Fein. “We’ll find out if she can run with [Breeders’ Cup quality] horses.”
The Gallant Bloom will serve as a rematch between Emma’s Encore and Judy the Beauty, who were separated by a nose in the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies on August 4. Both sophomores will be facing their elders in a stakes for the first time.
Owned by Brenda Mercer and Peter A. Berglar, Emma’s Encore posted a 39-1 upset in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont, then validated that shocker by nipping Judy the Beauty on the wire in the Prioress at Saratoga.
“We’re going to have to [try older fillies and mares] pretty soon, anyway,” said her Hall of Fame trainer, H. Allen Jerkens. “What are we going to do? You’re not going to win all of them, so you try hard and do the best you can do.”
Rosie Napravnik takes over for injured Junior Alvarado on 8-1 Emma’s Encore, who will depart from post 7 carrying 116 pounds.
Judy the Beauty, owned and trained by Wesley Ward, seeks her first win since taking a restricted stakes at Woodbine as a 2-year-old. Since then, she has finished second in three straight races, including the 2011 Grade 1 Spinaway and an optional claimer against fillies and mares in June at Churchill Downs in addition to the Prioress.
Tabbed at 6-1 on the morning line, Judy the Beauty will leave from post 4 toting 115 pounds, including Joel Rosario.
The field also includes Roman Treasure, winner of a restricted stakes at Belmont in July and sixth in the Honorable Miss; Island Bound, second in the Honorable Miss and sixth in the Ballerina; Delaware Park stakes winner Dust and Diamonds; and Risky Rachel, victorious in the Union Avenue for New York-breds on August 20 at Saratoga.