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Strike It Rich Returns in Friday Allowance Feature
By Jack Will
Waterville Lake Stable’s 4-year-old filly Strike It Rich was on a roll the first half of last season winning three straight, including the Little Silver Stakes and Boiling Springs Stakes at Monmouth Park for trainer Christophe Clement. Things didn’t go her way, however, when finishing last of 12 as the favorite in the Lake George Stakes (G2) last out at Saratoga on July 28.
Strike It Rich returns to competition in Friday’s $61,500 optional/allowance feature going one mile on turf with jockey Joe Bravo named to ride over the course where she won an allowance race in April prior to the two Monmouth stakes tallies. The roan/gray daughter of Unbridled’s Song was a $350,000 Saratoga yearling purchase.
Strike It Rich faces six rivals with Frank Calabrese’s 5-year-old mare Romacaca likely to vie for the favorite’s role with leading rider Paco Lopez in the saddle for trainer Nick Canani. The daughter of Running Stag was a $25,000 claim here in April of 2009 and now boasts earnings of more than $300,000.
Romacaca has since become multiple stakes-placed and finished a game fourth in the Beverly D Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park in August when beaten less than three lengths for it all. She has run twice since the Beverly D, finishing second in a November allowance at Calder and third last out as the odds-on choice in a Tampa Bay allowance on Jan. 23.
The intriguing prospect in Friday’s race is Andrew Rosen’s 5-year-old mare First Passage with Alex Solis named to ride in her first start for trainer Shug McGaughey. The daughter of Giant’s Causeway made her career debut finishing 15th in a race at Newmarket in England in her only start as a 2-year-old and only previous try on turf.
First Passage re-surfaced at Calder with trainer Marty Wolfson and reeled off three straight in 2009, including the $250,000 Azalea Stakes (G3) before an unlucky fourth-place try in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga when she was off to a poor start and got beat only 1 ¾ lengths for it all. She makes her first start since finishing sixth in the Chilukki Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
Completing the field for Friday’s feature are Mueller Thoroughbred Stable’s Ansong, C.H. Marquez, Jr.; Stevestan Stables’ Striking Dancer, Julien Leparoux; Jane and James Fraser’s Quebrada Shiner, Jose Lezcano; and Lee Lewis’ Mystic Miracle, Elvis Trujillo.
Four-Way Tie at Top of Gulfstream Trainers’ Leader Board
After five weeks of the 2011 Gulfstream Park racing season four trainers are tied for the lead in the standings with nine wins apiece – Todd Pletcher, Wesley Ward, David Fawkes and Nick Canani. Pletcher remains the favorite to collect an eighth consecutive Gulfstream championship. Nick Zito and Ken McPeek are tied for fifth in the standings with seven wins each.
While the trainers’ race remains highly competitive, jockey Paco Lopez holds a big lead of 10 over his closest rival Julien Leparoux at 30-20 going into week six of the session as Lopez defends his 2010 title. Alex Solis continues to do well after moving his tack east from California and is tied for third with Javier Castellano at 17 each. They are followed by three others with 16 – Jose Lezcano, John Velazquez and Rajiv Maragh.