The exclusive club of juvenile horses that first tasted stakes success at Calder Casino & Race Course before going on to enjoy national prominence, which includes the likes of Awesome Feather, Big Drama, and Jackson Bend, could soon welcome another member as the unbeaten Rose to Gold, the 13 ½-length winner of last weekend’s $100,000 Brave Raj Stakes, will depart her south Florida home by month’s end to take an October 5 Grade 1 test in Kentucky.
“She came back from the race very good and we’re planning to take her to Keeneland for a start in the Alcibiades,” trainer Sal Santoro said Wednesday morning.
Rose to Gold, a daughter of Friends Lake that was purchased at auction for $1,400, made her first appearance on the Calder main track since her triumphant win in the Brave Raj when galloping Tuesday morning. The filly returned to the dirt to once again stretch her legs on Wednesday.
“She’s feeling so good right now, she was on the muscle the whole way,” Santoro said. “Her exercise rider had to keep her along the outer rail because the minute he started to take her to the inside, she wanted to roll.”
Santoro plans to continue a relatively easy schedule for Rose to Gold in advance of next week’s anticipated departure north.
“We’ve got a Creech van with box stalls all to ourselves,” Santoro said. “We’ll have five horses going up there that we plan to run and they will leave the 25th. That should get us to Keeneland around 7 a.m. the morning of the 26th. We’ll walk them that day and then get them out to the track to see how they go over the Polytrack.”
The ability to adapt from traditional dirt to Polytrack will undoubtedly prove an important factor when it comes to Rose to Gold’s prospects for Grade 1 success at Keeneland. Santoro appears to be taking a somewhat conventional approach when evaluating the filly’s potential capacity to handle a surface he saw firsthand last fall.
“I think her race here over an off-track was really good, and generally that relates well to Polytrack, so I think she’ll love it,” Santoro said. “And I was able to get familiar with the surface when I sent Musical Flair up there to race last year (in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity).”
With autumn approaching, and an unbeaten juvenile filly stakes winner in his barn, Santoro could be forgiven for forming lofty goals, but the trainer appears to be taking the opposite approach, remaining firm in his decision to look no further than the Alcibiades for Rose to Gold.
“What happens with her after the Alcibiades all depends on what happens in the Alcibiades,” Santoro said when prodded about the long-term possibilities for Rose to Gold, including the Breeders’ Cup, which the filly would need to be supplemented to. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself right now. I want to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to everything.
“What’s important to me is that the horse is good and that (owners) Alex and Kathy are really excited,” Santoro continued. “They’ve had some serious offers for the filly, but they want to keep her and run her. And I’ve got an entire barn of horses for them to worry about, so I need to keep a close eye on her, while giving my other horses the attention they deserve.”
For that ability to balance the day-to-day workings of a 15-horse barn, including an unbeaten juvenile stakes winner and several stakes-placed runners, Santoro credits his help.
“I wish I could say it was all me, but without the crew I’ve got, none of this would be possible right now,” Santoro said. “My exercise riders are the best. If you tell them to hit a number, they hit it, and they aren’t afraid to come back and tell me the truth. And with my grooms, if I go and tell them to do something, chances are, it’s already been done.”
In addition to Rose to Gold, Santoro plans to send Judy’s Red Shoes third-place finisher Fine Silver to Keeneland to run in the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes on October 19, while Musical Flair, third in last weekend’s $75,000 Needles Stakes, will be pointed towards the local Tropical Park Derby.
Other horses Santoro intends on sending to Kentucky include recent allowance winner For the Win, an unraced 2-year-old Street Sense colt named Centofanti, and More Than Speed, who Santoro suggests is possible for the Franklin County Stakes on October 12.
SATURDAY TO FEATURE STAGE DOOR BETTY; STARTER SERIES SECOND-LEG
While the entry box for Saturday’s races at Calder remains open, the card is expected to place the female set in the spotlight as it will include the 11th running of the Stage Door Betty, a 1 1/16-mile main track test for fillies and mares, along with the second leg of the Tropical Starter Series Filly and Mare Division, which will be run over 7 ½ furlongs of turf with a rich $50,000 purse.
The Stage Door Betty is expected to feature the return of three-time local stakes winner Angelica Zapata, who hasn’t started since a nine-length winner of the $75,000 Nancy’s Glitter on July 14, along with an appearance from last year’s race champion My Pal Chrisy.
SUNDAY TRIPLE FOR LEYVA; CHAMAFI DOUBLES
Fresh off his Saturday stakes score aboard Mucho Mas Macho in the Needles, jockey Juan Leyva continued his winning ways on Sunday when guiding a trio of runners through the wire first.
Leyva tallied his first win of the day in the Sunday opener, prevailing with Justforgetaboutit for trainer Bill Kaplan. The rider then returned to the winner’s circle two races later with Gold Man for conditioner Ron Spatz, before completing his three-win day in race five aboard the Kaplan-trained Uptown Anthem.
Leyva entered the Wednesday program in fifth place in the jockey standings.
Apprentice rider Jilver Chamafi also enjoyed a multi-win day on Sunday, scoring a dead-heat victory with Delightful Dawn in race four before returning to win with El Speedo in race six.