by Gulfstream Park Press Release
June 26, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Matalona Thoroughbreds LLC’s Stormy Embrace is scheduled to seek a title defense and another shot at the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in Saturday’s $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The Princess Rooney, a seven furlong Breeders’ Cup ‘Win & You’re In’ sprint for fillies and mares, will co-headline the Summit of Speed program with the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3), a six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up.
Stormy Embrace, who is slated to face six rivals Saturday, enters the Princess Rooney off a sensational 10 ½-length victory in the May 18 Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream. She is the 4-5 morning-line favorite.
“She ran very credible and very, very big,” trainer Kathleen O’Connell said. “She’s a very, very nice horse.”
Last year, Stormy Embrace won the Musical Romance on her way to capturing the Princess Rooney by six lengths to earn a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs. After finishing off-the-board at Churchill, the Matalona homebred mare returned to finish behind multiple-stakes winner Dream Pauline twice during the Championship Meet, losing a photo finish in the Dec. 15 Sugar Swirl (G3) and checking in third in the Hurricane Bertie (G3).
The Florida-bred mare ran seven furlongs in swift 1:21.51 while defending her title in the Musical Romance, named to honor the South Florida-based filly who captured the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.
“She’s just as good this year as she was last year. She’s a model of consistency. She doesn’t have to be anywhere. She just has to have things unfold,” said O’Connell, who has saddled the winners of nearly 2100 races. “In the Breeders’ Cup, they unfolded terrible and I just throw that one out, but she’s been a model of consistency otherwise.”
Stormy Embrace debuted in July 2016 with a handy 9 ½-length victory in a $50,000 maiden claiming race and went on to be multiple stakes-placed before blossoming in 2018.
“She exhibited a lot of talent early on when she was 2. She went through some physical growing pains and mental growing pains and she’s just matured into what she is, which is a very solid racehorse,” O’Connell said. “She’s doing awesome. Hopefully we’ll have a big day.”
Wilmer Garcia has the return mount.
Newtown Anner Stud and Mark D. Breen’s Saguaro Row, who is based at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. with trainer Michael Stidham, is slated to seek her first stakes victory in the Princess Rooney. The 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags is coming off back-to-back six-furlong optional claiming allowance races at Keeneland and Belmont Park since returning to Stidham’s stable. She had debuted for Stidham in Sept. 2017 with a victory at six furlongs at Laurel Park and finished fifth at a mile in the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs. Saguaro Row subsequently finished off the board in two starts around two turns at Fair Grounds for trainer Brendan Walsh in early 2018 before heading to the sidelines for a year and returning to Stidham for her 2019 campaign.
“I sprinted her and both times she won. I think the key is letting her do what she does best, which is sprint,” Stidham said.
Albin Jimenez, who rode the Stidham-trained Classic Fit for a victory in the Hut Hut Stakes early in the 2018-2019 Championship Meet at Gulfstream, has the mount. Saguaro Row is 5-2.
Trenchtown Cat, was also entered to Saturday’s $75,000 Azalea for 3-year-old fillies, but trainer Rohan Crichton and owners Dennis Smith, Span Investments, In. and George Benedicty have opted for a start in the Princess Rooney.
“She’s won two stakes races. If she even hits the board, it improves her value as a broodmare,” Crichton said. “I think her Ana T race merits a shot in the Princess Rooney.
The daughter of Discreet Cat, a stakes winner on turf during the Championship Meet, made an auspicious debut on dirt last time out in the May 18 Ana T Stakes, scoring a 3 ¾-length triumph in the 6 ½-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.
“I expected her to run well on dirt, but if I said that I expected her to run the way she did, I’d be lying through my teeth,” said Crichton, who had previously saddled Trenchtown Cat for a victory on turf in the Sanibel Island Stakes on the undercard of the March 30 Florida Derby (G1).
Miguel Vasquez, who guided Trenchtown Cat to victory in the Ana T, has the return mount. She is 6-1.
Among the older fillies that fell victim to Trenchtown Cat in the Ana T was Razorback Lady, who is also slated to return in the Princess Rooney. Owned by trainer Patrick Biancone, the 4-year-old daughter of Overdriven, who has finished first or second in eight of 11 lifetime races, set a pressured pace before settling for second behind Trenchtown Cat in her first race since finishing second in the March 16 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream..
“She was coming off a little layoff,” Biancone said. “She’ll be fitter for this race.”
Julien Leparoux, who rode Razorback Lady in the Inside Information, is scheduled to return to Gulfstream to be reunited with the Arkansas-bred filly, who is 8-1.
OGMA Investments LLC’s Royal Asscher (12-1) is slated to seek her third straight victory since being claimed by trainer Gustavo Delgado for $12,500 in February. The well-traveled 5-year-old daughter of Tale of Ekati, who has raced from Kentucky to Florida with stops in Southern California, Arizona, Texas and Louisiana, won a pair of mile optional claiming allowance races going away.
Edgard Zayas was aboard for both victories and has been named to ride Royal Asscher again Saturday.
Flying Finish Farm Inc.’s Reagan’s Rose (30-1) and Arindel’s Weekend Mischief (15-1) round out the field.