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Musical Romance Adds Princess Rooney Handicap to Her Resume

musical romance
Musical Romance earned an Eclipse Award last season as champion female sprinter. One of the few blemishes on her 2011 record was a narrow defeat in that year’s Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder.

Under regular rider Juan Leyva, Musical Romance added the 2012 Princess Rooney to her impressive resume with a half-length win on Saturday.

“That was a really painful loss, missing by a head last year,” Leyva said following the race. “It stuck with me all this time because I know she should have won, and because we lost the race here at Calder, on our home track. So it feels so great right now, to win this race today. This was sweet redemption.”

Leyva had Musical Romance forwardly–placed as usual through the early stages of the Princess Rooney, gliding along comfortably inside of horses tracking from third while Golden Mystery, one of trainer Marty Wolfson’s record-setting six entrants, set opening splits of :21.80 and :45.10.

“This filly loves being inside; she thrives on that kind of stuff,” Leyva said of Musical Romance. “You don’t get a lot of horses that want to be in there like that, and that no matter where you put her, she’s going to run.”

Musical Romance began her winning rally on the turn, challenging and then putting away Golden Mystery in mid-stretch before holding off a dangerous late challenge from Nicole H to hold sway grudgingly at the wire while stopping the timer in 1:10.92.

“Turning for home, I was waiting in the pocket, waiting for room,” Leyva said. “I didn’t want to move too soon. I had watched Nicole H’s races in New York, and I know she hangs a little. And at the end, my horse just dug in. She’s just an awesome horse.”

For trainer Bill Kaplan, Saturday’s win was never about exoneration for last year’s Princess Rooney defeat and was always seen as just another stop along the path towards a successful defense in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in November.

“It didn’t bother me like it did Juan,” Kaplan said of the 2011 defeat. “I think that’s because he was on the horse, he did everything right, and he just got beat. But after the race, I told Juan to forget about it; she ran a great race that day, and had she seen Sassy Image, she would have dug in and did like she did today when holding that other horse (Nicole H) off.

“So there was no vindication for me today. It was just a great race, and we were able to keep her on the road to the Breeders’ Cup.”

–Calder Publicity contributed to this report.

Musical Romance/Coady photo