Seajay Racing’s Spelling Again was able to hold off the late rush of Cali Star to win Saturday’s Grade 2 Princess Rooney by a neck. The 5-year-old daughter of Awesome Again earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, because the Princess Rooney is a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” Series. A Brad Cox trainee, the mare covered seven furlongs in 1:22.09 under Luis Saez.

“It was a good set-up,” said Saez. “She had a great trip. She broke good and she was right there. She was always very comfortable. I had a little pressure early, but I knew I had enough horse. When she came to the stretch she kept running. I got nervous—that other horse was flying—but I knew I just had to ride harder. And we got it.”

My Miss Venezuela jumped out of the gate the quickest to gain the lead over Concealed with a Kiss, at first by just a head through an opening quarter in :22.49. Approaching the half-mile mark, My Miss Venezuela had stretched her lead to nearly 2 1/2 lengths, while Spelling Again tracked from third position. Mid-way through the turn, Kiss to Remember ranged up on the outside of Spelling Again, so Saez made the decision to ask his mare for everything right then. The two hit the top of the stretch together, but that was just the beginning of the real running.

Spelling Again dispatched Kiss to Remember while the favorite Birdatthewire loomed from third position, but Cali Star was making a huge run from the rear of the field. With less than 100 yards to run, Cali Star loomed dangerously at the saddle cloth of Spelling Again, who was tiring and had changed back to her left lead. Though Cali Star was making up ground with every lunge, Spelling Again was just able to outlast her rival, keeping her neck in front at the wire. Birdatthewire finished third, while Kiss to Remember wound up fourth.

““It was a fantastic race. It was a great effort,” said Cox. “She probably had to move a little prematurely with that horse (Kiss to Remember) coming up on the outside of her on the turn. But (Jockey) Luis (Saez) recognized it and stayed after her, put that one away and held off Marty’s horse [Marty Wolfson-trained Cali Star]. We obviously wouldn’t have flown her down there if we didn’t expect her to run well. She’s a tough horse who overcomes things. She overcame some things, the tough trip and shipping, and she rewarded us today with a big effort.”

Bred in Pennsylvania by George Strawbridge, Spelling Again recorded her second graded stakes victory with the Princess Rooney. Her overall record stands at 6-3-5 from 20 starts, with earnings of over $500,000.

Source: Paulick Report