It’s not exactly a Florida-bred stake being run in New York Saturday, but the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap to be run at Belmont Park is made up of 40% entrants from the Sunshine State. Not only do Florida-bred fillies and mares make up four of the ten projected starters, but Florida’s C C’s Pal, Emma’s Encore, Musical Romance and Turbulent Descent should all be among the favorites in the $200,000 Gallant Bloom set to go six and one-half furlongs. Three of them are coming into the Gallant Bloom off of victories in Grade 1 races while the other just won a Grade 2.
If not the favorite, Musical Romance is the most accomplished of those expected in the Gallant Bloom, having been named the Eclipse Award winner of the 2011 filly and mare sprint division and the Florida-bred Horse of the Year as well. Her biggest victory last year came in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs in November, which more than likely clinched her collection of year-end honors.
This year the Bill Kaplan-trained daughter of Concorde’s Tune has won two of her five starts including the Grade 1 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March and the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap as the 122-pound high weight in her last start at Calder Casino and Race Course on Jul. 7. Out of the Sloe Gin Fizz mare Candlelightdinner, Musical Romance was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud and now races for Adam Lazarus of Aventura, Fla., in partnership with Kaplan of Plantation, Fla. She is again the 122-pound high weight in the Gallant Bloom, just as she was in the Princess Rooney.
In a recent announcement by Three Chimneys Farm, Musical Romance will be sold through their consignment at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale in the days following the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup, to be run this year at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Ca. Kaplan and Lazarus have both said a repeat win in the Filly and Mare Sprint is their goal for Musical Romance. The Gallant Bloom is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Filly and Mare Sprint.
In the Gallant Bloom, Musical Romance has drawn post nine and will have regular rider Juan Leyva aboard. She is the second choice in the morning line at 5-2.
Breaking just to the outside of Musical Romance will be 9-5 morning line favorite Turbulent Descent, a recent winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 24. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Barbados neighbors Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Turbulent Descent is undefeated in just two starts this year having also taken the $72,000 Desert Stormer Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park in June.
“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.”
Another bred by Ocala Stud, Turbulent Descent is by Congrats and is out of the Forestry mare Roger’s Sue. The 4-year-old filly is also a graduate of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company 2010 April Sale of Two Year Olds in Training where she brought $160,000. Pletcher has given the riding assignment aboard Turbulent Descent to John Velazquez Jr.
Further showcasing the depth of the Gallant Bloom are the 8-1 morning line odds for both C C’s Pal and Emma’s Encore.
“Pretty much all of the top [female sprinters] besides Groupie Doll will be in Saturday’s race,” said Eric Fein of Jericho N.Y., and the owner of C C’s Pal. “It’s like a Breeders’ Cup in September.”
Although C C’s Pal is the only Florida-bred in the Gallant Bloom not to have won a Grade 1 in her last start, the 5-year-old mare did win the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga Aug. 3 most recently. Bred by Beth Bayer of Ocala, Fla., C C’s Pal has two wins from her last three starts having taken the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park in early June. Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., C C’s Pal has drawn the five hole and will have Alan Garcia in the irons.
Emma’s Encore has been assigned the seven post and looks for her third straight Graded stakes win in the Gallant Bloom. Before winning the Prioress at Saratoga in August, Emma’s Encore also won the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park in July.
Emma’s Encore is trained by Allen H. Jerkens for Brenda Mercer and Peter A. Bergler and was bred in Florida by Equest Thoroughbreds Inc. located in Citra, Fla. Rosie Napravnik will be in the saddle when Emma’s Encore breaks from post seven.
Photo by Lamont