Following a two-race trek to Kentucky to compete in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs and the Grade 1 Vinery Madison at Keeneland, Pinnacle Racing Stables and Bill Kaplan’s Eclipse Award winning sprinter Musical Romance returned to her home stall in the Calder Casino & Race Course barn area Tuesday morning.
“It’s great to have her back home,” trainer and co-owner Kaplan said. “Just being around her, to have her in our presence, is an honor. She’s the classiest horse I’ve been around. To make 37 starts and to win on all surfaces at all distances, I call her the ‘Iron Horse of the Century’ for what she has done.”
In her most recent start, the Humana Distaff, Musical Romance crossed the wire second while chasing home runaway winner Groupie Doll. Though assumedly disappointed that his mare didn’t win, Kaplan was clearly impressed with the way she performed.
“That race might have been one of the best performances of her career,” Kaplan said of Musical Romance’s effort in the Humana Distaff. “The winner was amazing. Not only did she set a track record and win by seven, but two races earlier, Shackleford, a Preakness winner, and Amazombie, the Eclipse Award Sprint champion, were one-two in a race that went in 1:21 (1:21.06). Then she came back and ran in 1:20 (1:20.44).
“The track wasn’t any different; the weather wasn’t any different. And she ran faster than a Preakness winner and an Eclipse Award winner. That was just a remarkable performance, and I have no problem running second to that.”
With Musical Romance back at Calder, the Grade 1 Princess Rooney, the main event on the Summit of Speed program on July 7, seems a logical destination for the 5-year-old daughter of Concorde’s Tune.
“That is in the plans right now,” Kaplan said. “She was second in the race last year, and since the race is here at home, we’re going to look to run there.
“But I’m really concerned with just one thing now and that’s getting a healthy, sound, and ready Musical Romance back to the Breeders’ Cup. If you want to know the goal, that’s it.”
ANOTHER ROMANCE SET FOR FRENCH VILLAGE
Kaplan will saddle Another Romance in Saturday’s $75,000 French Village Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
“When it was time to name her, I was so enamored with Musical Romance that I named her Another Romance in hopes she would turn out like that one,” Kaplan said. “I don’t think we’ll quite get there, but she definitely has some talent.”
After failing to find the winner’s circle in the first 10 starts of her career, finishing second or third in six of those outings, Another Romance broke through for her overdue maiden victory on April 12 when coming home a three-length winner.
“That was a big effort,” Kaplan said. “Maybe getting back to Calder helped her a bit. Maiden races here can come up a little easier than the ones at Gulfstream. But that was a good race from her and she ran it in a good time.”
The French Village won’t be the first stakes engagement for Another Romance, who twice competed in added-money events as a maiden during her juvenile season, highlighted by a second-place finish in the $96,000 Cassidy Stakes.
“She was stakes-placed in just her third start; she missed by a neck that day,” Kaplan said. “So she has shown us that she has some ability. There are a couple of nice fillies in there (the French Village), but we think she’ll perform well.”
WHERE’S STERLING POINTS TOWARDS MEMORIAL DAY HANDICAP
Trainer Luis Ramirez reported that Where’s Sterling, the fourth-place finisher in both the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream Park, is on target for a start in the $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap. The 5-year-old worked a half-mile in :49.60 at Calder Casino & Race Course on May 3, a move that still resonated with the conditioner one week later.
“He worked good; real good,” Ramirez said. “It was his first work back since his last race and I was real happy with how he went. He’s doing great, and right now the plan is to run him in the Memorial Day Handicap.”
Where’s Sterling competed in the 2011 running of the Memorial Day Handicap where he crossed the wire fourth, but the son of Northern Afleet entered that race with just a maiden and entry-level allowance win on his résumé whereas the 2012 version of Where’s Sterling is more seasoned, having won the Grade 3 Phillip Iselin at Monmouth Park while also finishing second in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup.
“The plan is to work him one more time before the race, probably some time a week to 10 days before the race,” Ramirez said. “And then he’s ready.”
Nominations for the Memorial Day Handicap close Sunday, May 13.