No Question, Musical Romance Much the Best in Inside Information
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Musical Romance hit a sour note in her first start of the year, finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. The 2011 Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter not only tasted defeat but she also injured her left front foot during her disappointing 2012 debut to remain winless in five starts over the Gulfstream oval.
Was the 5-year-old mare past her peak? Does the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare winner dislike the Gulfstream surface? Will her hoof injury affect her performance?
Those were all questions that faced the Gulfstream bettors, who obviously had their doubts about Musical Romance’s chances of rebounding with a victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Inside Information (G2).
Sent to post for the seven-furlong sprint as the fourth betting choice at 9-2 odds, Musical Romance answered all those questions with a resounding ‘No’ and a solid ¾-length triumph.
The margin of victory doesn’t accurately depict Musical Romance’s dominance in the race for older fillies and mares. After saving ground on the rail directly behind pacesetter Funny Sunny along the backstretch and on the turn, Musical Romance lacked running room in mid-stretch as Hot Summer and R Holiday Mood took full flight to the finish line. When a hole finally appeared between Hot Summer and R Holiday Mood inside the 1/16th pole, Musical Romance surged under jockey Juan Leyva to win going away.
“I was in tight a little bit, but it was just a matter of being patient, waiting,” Leyva said. “I know once I ask this filly she’s going to go through anything. This filly is awesome.”
Trainer Bill Kaplan, whose mare ran seven furlongs in 1:21.88 while prevailing over nine rivals, has had full confidence in the rapport between Leyva and Musical Romance, but he admitted to being nervous in the stretch.
“I call Juan ‘The Iceman,’ said Kaplan, who owns the daughter of Concorde’s Tune in partnership with Pinnacle Racing Stables. “He just sat in that pocket and waited, and then got through. I was afraid it wouldn’t open up, but then she came on through there.”
Hot Summer, who went to post at 55-1 odds under jockey Luis Saez, held second, a half-length ahead of slight favorite Groupie Doll and jockey Rajiv Maragh.
“I loved her today. She’s been doing super good lately,” Hot Summer’s trainer, David Fawkes, said. “She’s a nice filly; she’s beaten half of the field before. She got beat by the Breeders’ Cup winner; she did great.”
Musical Romance’s performance was testament to her resiliency as well as her abundance talent, considering the injury she suffered less than two months ago.
“She really had no chance after she grabbed her quarter in her last race. It was a pretty nasty injury and it got infected,” Kaplan said. “She didn’t even walk for four days after the race and didn’t train for three weeks, but she breezed beautifully and when we got her back, I knew she was okay and would be ready for this race.”
Musical Romance earned $90,000 for her 10th victory in 35 starts, boosting her career bankroll to $1,315,350, the bulk of which was earned last year when Kaplan focused on one-turn races.
Although he has no set schedule, Kaplan mentioned a possible three-race schedule: the Vinery Madison at Keeneland (Apr. 12), the Humana Distaff at Churchill (May 5) and the Princess Rooney at Calder (July 7).