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Ceci Valentina Springs Surprise in 200k Susan’s Girl

Aug 31, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Trainer Angel Rodriguez couldn’t pick out his horse Saturday in the early going of the $200,000 Susan Girl, the middle leg of the FTBOA’s Florida Sire Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

Rodriguez expected Ceci Valentina to be close to the front.

“Where is she? Where is she?” Rodriguez said he kept telling himself.

No worries.

Ceci Valentina made her presence known when it counted, coming from behind and swooping past the tiring frontrunners, including heavy favorite Lenzi’s Lucky Lady, to pull off the upset in the seven-furlong stakes.

“It was a hard race,” said winning jockey Marcos Meneses. “But in the stretch she really gave me a good run. Today it worked out for us.”

Facing stakes company for the first time, Ceci Valentina was dismissed by bettors, who sent her off at odds of 12-1. But the filly proved them wrong with a powerful stretch run in which she overtook previously unbeaten and 3-5 favorite Lenzi’s Lucky Lady, along with a host of others.

Ceci Valentina prevailed by a half-length over 25-1 shot Bahamian Girl, who was another 1 1/4 lengths in front of 35-1 shot Awesome Indra.

Lenzi’s Lucky Lady, who took the lead from Ms Big Spring at the top of the stretch in her bid to improve her perfect record to four straight wins, tired in late stretch to finish fifth.

Ceci Valentina went into the Susan’s Girl off a two-length maiden win at Gulfstream on Aug. 3 and the 73 Beyer Speed Figure she posted in that race was the highest of any of her challengers on Saturday.

But they were no match for her in the 38th running of the Susan’s Girl.

It’s just that the race didn’t start out the way Rodriguez had envisioned it. He expected the filly, a homebred for owner Amalio Ruiz Lozano, to be lying close to the early pace. Instead, she was far back early.

“She was so far back,” said Rodriguez, who has been training for 10 years. “Marcos said she was in a little trouble. They were pinching her. They had nowhere to go. And then she got to the outside and came on very strong at the end.”

The performance was enough to convince Rodriguez to enter Ceci Valentina in the final leg of the Sire Stakes series for fillies, the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 28.

“She’s really a nice filly,” Rodriguez said.

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