Bo Hirsch LLC’s Ce Ce will follow a formula for proven success when she defends her title in Saturday’s $300,000 Princess Rooney Invitational (G2) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The 6-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality dominated last year’s edition of the seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares on her way to clinching a 2021 Eclipse Award title in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Del Mar. The Michael McCarthy-trained mare will seek to earn another fees-paid berth in this year’s World Thoroughbred Championships at Keeneland when she takes on five rivals in the Princess Rooney, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event.
The Princess Rooney will headline Saturday’s Summit of Speed program that will also feature the $100,000 Smile Sprint (G3), a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds that will offer Breeders’ Cup incentives to the top three finishers. Saturday’s first-race post time is set for 12:30 p.m.
Ce Ce, the 4-5 morning-line favorite, has an impressive career resume of versatility into the Princess Rooney, having achieved Grade 1 success in both one-turn and two-turn stakes.
“She’s just an incredibly classy mare. She’s always aiming to please. I said it before: I wish all my colleagues, at one time in the lives, could have a mare like her, because all she does is try,” McCarthy said. “She’s made us look good a couple of times. We’re not lost in the fact of what she’s done for us, so we try to do everything right for her.”
Although she has won two Grade 1 stakes around two turns, it was around one-turn in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint that she became the first McCarthy-trained Eclipse Award champion.
“Those are the kind of things that you can leave your mark on the game with horses like her. It’s wonderful that she can be recognized as an Eclipse Award champion. It’s wonderful to do it for a guy like Bo Hirsch. He’s just a real patron of the game. His family’s been around for a long time. His father was a real icon of California,” the Santa Anita-based McCarthy said. “So, it’s a big deal, a big deal for us and a big deal to be able to share it with someone like Bo Hirsch.”
The defending Eclipse Award female sprint titlist will be cutting back to race around one turn in the Princess Rooney after capturing the Azeri (G2) and finishing third in the Apple Blossom (G1) around two turns at Oaklawn Park.
“Earlier this year, with nothing really fitting [in Southern California], we decided to go to Oaklawn for the Azeri. She ran so well in the Azeri that we decided to go back and give it a shot in the Apple Blossom. It looked like a race on paper that wasn’t going to be easy for us from a pace scenario. You had Letruska in there who was the lone speed. We didn’t want her to get too far away from us, so we took the race to her fairly early,” McCarthy said. “I thought she ran well in defeat. It was one of those things, timing-wise, that you had to take a chance.”
Ce Ce’s proven success at Gulfstream has bolstered McCarthy’s confidence in her chances to repeat in the Princess Rooney.
“The tracks just seemed to have gotten a little deeper out here. She likes things a little bit faster,” he said. “We’ve been able to find a few racetracks to her liking.”
McCarthy, who saddled City of Light for a victory in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream in 2019, has awarded the return mount on Ce Ce to Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza.
Trainer Charlton Baker and Michael Foster’s Glass Ceiling brings graded success at seven furlongs into the Princess Rooney. The New York invader notched back-to-back graded-stakes victories at the distance in the Feb. 19 Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel and April 9 Distaff (G3) at Aqueduct while producing a four-race winning streak.
The 5-year-old daughter of Constitution is coming off a distant third behind victorious Bella Sofia in the June 10 Bed O Roses (G2) at Belmont Park.
Edgard Zayas has the call aboard Glass Ceiling, who is rated second at 7-2 in the morning line.
Grade 1 stakes-placed Make Mischief is entered to seek her first graded-stakes victory in the Princess Rooney. Gary Barber’s 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, who finished third in last year’s Acorn (G1), is coming off a victory over New York-breds in the Critical Eye at Belmont by four lengths.
Edwin Gonzalez has been named to ride the Mark Casse-trained filly.
Slam Dunk Racing, trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., Daniel Damen, Dominique Damico, Steven Bouchey, Parkinson Goodrich LLC, K-Mac Stable LLC and Brian Martin’s Allworthy makes a return into graded-stakes company Saturday while coming off a two-length victory in 6 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance May 14 at Churchill Downs.
“Initially, we thought she was a filly who wanted to go long. She’s a filly who trains a lot better than she runs. She’s done decent, but we feel there is more there.”
After finishing a tiring fourth in a mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream, Allworthy pressed the early pace in the Churchill race before drawing clear by two lengths.
“Last time, we cut her back thinking she’d be a come-from-behind sprinter. Weirdly enough, she broke with the speed. She showed speed, so it was uncharacteristic how she ran, but we’re hoping that’s what she wants to be,” Joseph said. “Hopefully, she wants to sprint.”
Allworthy, who earned a graded-stakes placing in last year’s Charles Town Oaks (G3), will be tested Saturday in her quest for her first graded-stakes victory.
“It’s a much different kind of race – you’re facing Ce Ce, the Breeders’ Cup [Filly and Mare] Sprint and defending Princess Rooney champion. It’s a big class check for her, but it’s on her home ground and she’s in good order,” Joseph said. “We’re going to give it a try. If you don’t try, you don’t know.”
Edgar Perez has the mount aboard the 4-year-old daughter of Tonalist.
Jacks or Better Farm Inc.’s Spirit Wind is set for her graded-stakes debut in the Princess Rooney while coming off a three-race winning streak that includes back-to-back stakes victories over the Gulfstream main track. The 3-year-old daughter of Bahamian Squall, who has won her last three starts by a combined 23 lengths, defeated a pair of next-out winners in the $100,000 Any Limit during the Championship Meet before running away from Florida-bred rivals by open lengths in the Musical Romance May 21.
The Ralph Nicks-trained filly finished second in her debut last year before returning nine months later to graduate by 15 ½ lengths Feb. 18 prior to winning back-to-back stakes.
“The filly’s doing good and she’s run well. We get to stay home,” Nicks said. “It’s a huge step up facing the champion from last year, but at least we have the homecourt advantage, and we’ll see what happens.”
Leonel Reyes has the return call aboard Spirit Wind, who is eligible for the $50,000 ‘Win Only’ for Florida-breds, as is EKB Stables’ Corey.
Corey enters the Princess Rooney off a third-place finish behind Spirit Wind in the Musical Romance. The Peter Walder-trained 7-year-old mare captured the Bal Harbour Handicap in her previous start
Miguel Vasquez has been named to ride the daughter of First Samurai
post horse odds
1 Spirit Wind 6-1
2 Allworthy 8-1
3 Glass Ceiling 5-2
4 Corey 15-1
5 Ce Ce 4-5
6 Make Mischief 6-1