You look at Saturday’s two graded stakes on Gulfstream Park’s Summit of Speed program and you begin to wonder:
Is Kathleen O’Connell the Chad Brown of Florida-based sprinters? O’Connell saddles the early favorite in both the Grade 2 Princess Rooney and the G3 Smile Stakes. Ladies first.
The Princess Rooney, a 7-furlong jaunt for fillies and mares, is a “Win and You’re In” affair run at the Breeders’ Cup F&M Sprint distance. And when you look at the match-ups in the 7-filly field, you’re led to one conclusion:
It will take a herculean effort to to defeat O’Connell’s defending Rooney champion, Stormy Embrace (4-5). the 5 year old mare is (24) 8-6-4 lifetime, 5-for-11 in Hallandale and 4-for-11 at the trip. Her Thoro-Graph figures reside in a zip code away from her rivals. On paper she’s unbeatable.
If somehow she stubs her toe, two rivals have a puncher’s chance. Since Michael Stidham took over the training of Saguaro Row (5-2), her figures are much better–good enough to win two straight. The problem? No experience at GP or at the trip and that’s a big ask against the favorite.
Trenchtown Cat is more interesting given her 6-1 early line odds and background. In a five race career, she’s had four runs on turf and one a dirt. Her main track debut came last out at Gulfstream when she turned back off two grass routes and won at 6-1/2 furlongs in fast time. Can she repeat?
It will be very difficult against this favorite, but not impossible. If she makes another forward move, at 4-1 or more, she might be worth a saver win wager and a boxed exacta.
Since O’Connell took over the training of Jalen Journey (9-5), the gelded 4 year old is 3-for-3 sprinting on Saturday’s racetrack, winning by a combined 17-1/4 lengths. The key to making it four straight on the lead depends on how much early pressure ‘Jalen’ gets from the very quick Royal Squeeze.
It’s worth taking a shot here and we intend to throw deep, taking a swing with Diamond Oops (20-1). His form is in interesting puzzle. After he won the Buffalo Man in DEC, 2017, he didn’t run again until July, 2018. He didn’t run after that until May of this year. Are there issues? Obviously.
What’s intrigues is that both starts this year came in 5 furlong turf sprints. He finished third in an overnight stakes then was an even fifth in the G1 Jaipur, beaten less than four lengths by World of Trouble, arguably this country’s best sprinter.
Diamond Oops is back on the GP dirt track, where he’s 3-for-4 sprinting. Trainer Patrick Biancone makes a switch to Julien Leparoux, an exercise rider for Biancone before he became a licensed apprentice.
If we’re not alive in the rolling double,w e’ll make a small bet at 8-1 or greater, and key-box exactas with the favorite and talented 3 year old Garter and Tie (7-2), who spots actual weight to his older rivals.