Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park attracted 10 fillies and mares,
many with an eye on the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in
“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.”
The field for the 6 ½-furlong Gallant Bloom, a “Win and
You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
on November 2 at Santa Anita, includes three Grade 1 winners, with Turbulent
Descent installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite.
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.”
Mildly Offensive, 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
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
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.