Pinnacle Racing Stables and Bill Kaplan’s Eclipse Award winning female sprinter Musical Romance bid a proper farewell to Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday, winning the $55,000 Mike Sherman Memorial Stakes in her 25th and final start over her home track in advance of her November 3 title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.
“The only job we had today was to get her one step closer to the Breeders’ Cup,” co-owner and trainer Kaplan said following the race. “And I believe that’s what we were able to accomplish.”
Ridden by Juan Leyva, who has been aboard Musical Romance for 23 of her career starts, including each of her last 16 trips to the track, the daughter of Concorde’s Tune never lost sight of early leader Golden Mystery, staying within two lengths of that rival as she ran on the lead through opening splits of :22.43 and :45.83.
Golden Mystery retained a one-length advantage in mid-stretch, but one never got the feeling that Musical Romance was in jeopardy of losing the race, and in the final yards the champion mare made her way to the front and was ridden out through the wire to a three-quarter length victory, running the 6 ½-furlong distance in 1:17.13.
“She didn’t really have to work hard for it,” Leyva said as he walked back to the jockey’s room after his winning ride. “All we wanted to get out of this was a good race for her; to just have her finish and keep her healthy. That’s all we were looking for. And it looks like that’s exactly what we got.”
For Leyva, who has won with the filly nine times, eight of which were stakes, Saturday’s race marked his penultimate appearance aboard the champion mare, who is scheduled to pass through the Fasig-Tipton November breeding stock sale on November 5, two days after her Breeders’ Cup run.
“If you want to know the truth, it’s kind of bittersweet,” the rider said of the understanding that he and Musical Romance would part ways in four weeks. “She’s a real special mare, and she’s done a lot for me.
“But our work isn’t done yet. There’s still the Breeders’ Cup, and this year it’s at home for me. I’m from California and a lot of my family is still out there, so they’ll be there to see me. I can’t wait.”
With her victory in the Mike Sherman Memorial, Musical Romance is now a 12-time winner from 40 career starts with earnings of $1,681,885. The mare has made 25 lifetime appearances at Calder, visiting the local winner’s circle eight times, including a win in this year’s running of the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap.
One race after Musical Romance took the Mike Sherman Memorial, GZS Stable, Inc.’s 4-year-old colt Dual Exhauzt captured the first stake of his career when a front-running winner of the $75,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap for trainer Bill White.
“The plan was to take the lead and they let me,” winning rider Jesus Rios said. “From there, I just waited until I needed to ask him to run again, and when I did, he took off for me.”
Dual Exhauzt set early splits of :22.75 and :45.63 in the 6 ½-furlong dash, opening up a 2 ½-length lead in mid-stretch before holding on resolutely through the wire to finish 1 ¼ lengths better than runner-up Black Diamond Cat while stopping the timer in 1:17.31. Close It Out finished third.
The Kenny Noe Jr. win was the fourth in 20 starts for the son of Alke, who has now put together two straight victories after ending an 11-race losing streak when a convincing local allowance winner on August 30.