In order to secure a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup F&M Sprint, Musical Romance, who is undefeated at the Gallant Bloom distance of 6.5 furlongs, will have to best two other Grade 1 winners: Turbulent Descent and Emma’s Encore. Turbulent Descent has been a Grade 1 winner every year since she began her career while Emma’s Encore just became a Grade 1 winner in her last outing, the G1 Prioress Stakes, in which she topped fellow Gallant Bloom entrant Judy the Beauty. Also lined up to contend the Gallant Bloom are Roman Treasure, former claimer Island Bound, the never worse than third Dust and Diamonds, the newly ultra consistent C C’s Pal, and ungraded stakes winners Mildly Offensive and Risky Rachel.
Roman Treasure, Dust and Diamonds, C C’s Pal, Mildly Offensive, and Risky Rachel are speedy types and will likely set a competitive pace. I look for Turbulent Descent and Musical Romance to take up good stalking positions, and Emma’s Encore does her best running at the end. With so much speed at the front end, it looks as though the trio of Grade 1 winners have the pace advantage and will no doubt use it to their benefit.
Musical Romance is one that I have underestimated time and again, but I have learned from past mistakes. Even though Turbulent Descent has been made the morning line favorite based on her score in the G1 Ballerina last out, I believe Musical Romance is the one to beat. As previously stated, she’s undefeated at 6.5 furlongs, and she should be fresh since she has not raced since July 7 when she won the G1 Princess Rooney Handicap. Turbulent Descent, Emma’s Encore, C C’s Pal, and Judy the Beauty, Musical Romance’s main competition, are all coming in off big races from last month. Additionally, according to trainer Bill Kaplan, getting back to the Breeders’ Cup has been their goal all along; the Gallant Bloom will be the Eclipse award winner’s final prep before the big dance.
Advantages or no, Musical Romance’s task on Saturday will not be easy. She faces a very tough field, and everyone would love to get a piece of the “Win and You’re In” pie. Turbulent Descent has already stamped her ticket, but with championship honors also on the line, a win in this race is a must. Last year, Turbulent Descent was my pick to take home all the honors, but I have since learned to respect Musical Romance. I will not make the mistake of underestimating her again, and I fully expect that she will come home the winner. But, this is horse racing, and anything could happen.