This Saturday's G2 Gallant Bloom Handicap drew a deep field of 10 contenders that anyone could think is an early celebration of the November 3rd Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint race.
If Switch and Groupie Doll would be in this race, you can bet they would hand the Cup trophy to the winner of the race.
The 10-strong field is headlined by defending F&M Sprint champion, Musical Romance, and multiple Grade I winner, Turbulent Descent.
This race, with all due respect to the million dollar races at Parx Racing on Saturday, is the most competitive race of the day.
The $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap will be run at the 6.5 furlong distance, just half-a-furlong less than the F&M race and will be the third “Win and You’re In” in the qualifying challenge series that would give the winner an all-expenses-paid berth to the Cup race.
Switch (G2 A Gleam Handicap) and Turbulent Descent (G1 Ballerina) took the first two in the series, and there will still be one last automatic berth available on October 6 in the G2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland.
Turbulent Descent is the morning line odds-on favorite at 9-5, and with a win on Saturday, she would prevent any other from taking the third automatic berth.
She is a four-time G1 winner and has earned the favorite tag showing she is back in top form after her two recent wins. The Ballerina win was her first start since being purchased privately by Coolmore Stud and turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher.
She has two maintenance workouts for this race, and her new regular rider John Velazquez will be back aboard.
Musical Romance (5-2) started her climb to the top of the division in May last year with her win at the Ema Bovary stakes at Calder. Since then, she has seven wins in 13 tries that includes two G1 wins in the F&M and Princess Rooney her last time out.
It could be argued that maybe she wasn't in top form for her two losses to Groupie Doll—the division leader—in the two races prior to her win at the Princess Rooney. But that recent win and her workouts for this race signal she is peaking at the right time.
Her regular rider, Juan Leyva, keeps the mount for this Saturday.
The two three-year-old fillies, Emma's Encore (8-1) and Judy the Beauty (6-1) staged a spectacular photo finish on their last start at the G1 Prioress.
Emma's Encore unleashed a mad dash in the home stretch and caught Judy the Beauty at the wire on after being dead last and 7.5 lengths behind at the quarter-pole to win the race.
She has two visually appealing wins in her last two starts and has been working great for this race. Her 59 flat for five furlongs on September 13 show that she is ready to fire a big race. Rosie Napravnik picks the mount after Junior Alvarado broke his collarbone on September 10.
Judy the Beauty went unbeaten in her first three races on three different countries. Since then, she has three straight second-place finishes that include her only two races on dirt where she has been caught after leading in the final furlong.
She has been working extremely well, and Joel Rosario, who has been aboard for her last two races, returns to ride her again.
C C's Pal (8-1) is very consistent and has two G2 wins in her last three races. But she finished second to It's Tricky on her only try against a top filly or mare. Alvarado was her regular rider and now Alan Garcia gets the call for Saturday.
Dust and Diamonds (12-1) is the speed of the race. She has won her last two races, improving big time from one to the other, but she also takes a huge step in class. Julien Leparoux gets the call to try to stretch her speed and win on Saturday.
Risky Rachel (12-1) might be the second fastest on Saturday. She is another very consistent mare that steps up in class for this race. Javier Castellano has won with her in the two races he has ridden her, and will have his hands full trying to get the upset here.
Roman Treasure, Island Bound and Mildly Offensive—all at 20-1—complete the field.
While Turbulent Descent (121) and Musical Romance (122) give their challengers the edge in the weight department, it is only a small difference. It only makes this race a closer and tougher call.
But, Turbulent Descent has all going her way this Saturday. She has the outside post which gives Johnny V the chance to place her anywhere he wants and take his shot according to what develops in front of him.
Expect him to make his move just ahead of Musical Romance on the final quarter-pole and take the lead as they head into the stretch.This move will be the key to the win on Saturday.
By making his move this way, Velazquez will make Musical Romance come and catch Turbulent Descent, who, with her great finishing ability, should be able to repel her main rival in the final furlong.
Emma's Encore will come from the clouds to finish a very close third behind Musical Romance.
Win - Turbulent Descent
Place - Musical Romance
Show - Emma's Encore
9th Race | Gallant Bloom Handicap | Grade 2 | Purse: $200,000 | Distance: 6.5 furlongs | Post Time: 5:06 p.m. ET
|1||Roman Treasure||4/F||Jose Lezcano||Michael E. Hushion||20-1|
|2||Island Bound||5/M||Edgar S. Prado||Ian R. Wilkes||20-1|
|3||Dust and Diamonds||4/F||Julien R. Leparoux||Steven M. Asmussen||12-1|
|4||Judy the Beauty ||3/F||Joel Rosario ||Wesley A. Ward||6-1|
|5||C C's Pal||5/M||Alan Garcia||Richard E. Dutrow Jr||8-1|
|6||Mildly Offensive||4/F||Chris P. DeCarlo||Todd A. Pletcher||20-1|
|7||Emma's Encore||3/F||Rosie Napravnik||H. Allen Jerkens||8-1|
|8||Risky Rachel||5/M||Javier J. Castellano||Juan M. Coronel||12-1|
|9||Musical Romance||5/F||Juan C. Leyva||William A. Kaplan||5-2|
|10||Turbulent Descent||4/F||John R. Velazquez||Todd A. Pletcher||9-5|
Morning Line odds by drf.com.