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Most Valuable Pony (March 9-15): Ce Ce

by Jeremy Plonk

March 16, 2020

Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.

March 9-March 15, 2020

MVP: Ce Ce

Owner: Bo Hirsch LLC

Trainer: Whitey McCarthy

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Performance: California welcomed a rising star in the Distaff division as Ce Ce captured the week’s only Grade 1 race, the $400,000 Beholder Mile on March 14 at Santa Anita, and did so with authority. She overpowered previous Grade 1 winners Hard Not to Love and Ollie’s Candy by 3-1/4 lengths. It marked the first stakes win for the daughter of Elusive Quality and improved her record to 2-for-2 on her 4-year-old season. Ce Ce is half-sister to millionaire earner Papa Clem, winner of the Arkansas Derby and San Fernando (who also raced for owner Bo Hirsch).

On Tap: A campaign toward the Breeders’ Cup Distaff would be in order as the long-range goal for 2020. Timing-wise, she won Saturday on the same day the local prep was run for Oaklawn’s April 18 Grade 1 Apple Blossom, so she would fit there in terms of spacing. The April 25 Grade 2 Santa Margarita would be next up on the Santa Anita stakes schedule within the division, with the Grade 2 Santa Maria to follow May 30.

Honorable Mentions: It was a tight call this week and difficult to deny Serengeti Empress. Last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner dominated the March 14 Grade 2 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn by more than 6 lengths. You certainly could make additional cases for Bob Baffert’s unbeaten pair of 3-year-olds Nadal and Charlatan. They equally impressed with Nadal winning the March 14 Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn and Charlatan dominating a March 14 Santa Anita allowance cast for his second eye-catching victory. Finally, 8-year-old Nun the Less easily won the March 14 Kentucky Cup Classic for the second straight year, defeating the last two winners of Turfway’s signature Jeff Ruby in the process.