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Ce Ce Shows Her Class in Saturday’s 350k Princess Rooney

Jul 3, 2021
Multiple Grade 1 Winner Gives Espinoza Summit of Speed Sweep

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Bo Hirsch LLC’s Ce Ce stormed from off the pace to capture the $350,000 Princess Rooney Invitational (G2) at Gulfstream Park, providing jockey Victor Espinoza with a sweep of Saturday’s Summit of Speed graded-stakes features.

The multiple Grade 1 stakes winner’s triumph in the Princess Rooney came one race after Espinoza made the best of a last-minute catch mount aboard Miles Ahead, who was victorious in the $200,000 Smile Sprint Invitational (G3).

Ce Ce earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar Oct. 30 after running seven furlongs in 1:21.94 as the 5-2 second choice in the ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series event.

The Michael McCarthy trainee settled along the rail in mid-pack on the backstretch as Heiressall set a quick early pace, closely pressed by Pacific Gale during a 22.55-second first quarter of a mile.  Pacific Gale, a two-time graded-stakes winner during the Championship Meet, took over on the far turn, quickly joined by Sound Machine to her outside. Estilo Talentoso, the 6-5 favorite who got away slowly, made a sweeping move into contention on the turn into the homestretch, only to be joined to her inside by Ce Ce to her inside. After splitting horses, the 5-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality sprinted away on fresh legs to score by 3 ¼ lengths.

“She’s pretty impressive. She loves this track, it’s a little different than what she’s been running at,” Espinoza said. “Today, she ran her race. They were rolling, the ones in front of me. I know they’re going to get tired turning for home, so I just gave her enough time to split the horses.”

Estilo Talentoso edged Sound Machine by a head for second.

McCarthy, who watched the Princess Rooney at Los Alamitos Race Course in Southern California, was pleased with how the race set up for Ce Ce.

“I thought we were in a good spot. I was hoping to have a bit of a target to run at. I told Victor not to get in a hurry and not rush her out of there and ride her where she was comfortable. We were hoping for a nice stalking trip, and that we did. Around the turn it looked like we had plenty of run. It was just a matter of trying to get outside and finding our best stride, and we did that today.”

Last year, Ce Ce won the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita and the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park back to back before going winless in four subsequent starts.

“I thought she was overlooked last year. She won two Grade 1 races back-to-back,” McCarthy said. “After that we just couldn’t find a track that was suitable for her. She was running on tracks in California that were a little bit deep and a little bit loose. She wants one that is a bit firmer and faster, and we found that today.”

Ce Ce’s victory was a second big-race success at Gulfstream for McCarthy, who saddled City of Light for a dominating victory in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) in 2019.

McCarthy said Ce Ce is likely to show up at Saratoga for her next start.

“We’ll bring her back to California, and see how she comes out of this race,” he said, “Everything is on the table.”

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