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Belmont: Agave Kiss's owner nervous about Victory Ride
ELMONT, N.Y. – Viane Lizza is a bundle of nerves. Lizza is the owner of the undefeated New York-bred Agave Kiss, who puts her 6-for-6 record on the line in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park.
“I’m a nervous wreck already,” Lizza said Wednesday morning outside Barn 6 at Aqueduct, where Agave Kiss is stabled. “It started yesterday. Of course, the pressure’s on. The more she wins the harder it is.”
One of the reasons for Lizza’s nervousness is the fact the Victory Ride will be run a day before the one-year anniversary of the death of her husband Carl, the former proprietor of Flying Zee Stables.
“I think that’s part of the nervousness,” she said.
Viane Lizza said she has fielded several offers to buy Agave Kiss, a daughter of Lion Heart, but for now she has declined all of them.
“I’ve had some offers to buy her, buy a piece of her, but it’s nothing I really wanted to do,” Lizza said. “I think I’d rather just keep her and have some fun.”
Lizza may have been more nervous had this Saturday been the Grade 1 Prioress, which is normally run at this time of year. However, the New York Racing Association moved the Prioress to Aug. 4 and switched the Victory Ride from late August to Saturday.
Rudy Rodriguez, the trainer and exercise rider of Agave Kiss, said he would prefer that the Grade 1 race was this weekend.
“I wish that was the case,” Rodriguez said. “Now, at Saratoga the competition is going to be a lot stiffer.”
Agave Kiss, who has been in front at every point of call in her six races, drew the rail for the Victory Ride, run at six furlongs. Her five rivals include only one other graded stakes winner, Gypsy Robin, who was cross entered in Thursday’s Western Larla Stakes, where she would face males.
Tu Endie Wei, a three-time listed stakes winner on synthetic at Woodbine, makes her dirt debut in the Victory Ride. Julien Leparoux rides from post 4.
Sea Island, who has won two straight, was supplemented to the race by the Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey. She looks to be the only closer in a field laden with speed.
Emma’s Encore and Jamaican Smoke complete the field.
Gitchee Goomie eyes Saratoga
Coming off her first graded stakes victory in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Tuesday at Parx, Gitchee Goomie will make her next start at Saratoga.
Trainer Rick Violette must decide whether to go for a repeat in the $150,000 Yaddo for New York-breds on Aug. 17 or the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa eight days later.
“There’s something nice about going back and defending your title in the Yaddo but a week later is the Ballston Spa and it’s a Grade 2,” Violette said. “We’ll certainly nominate and keep our eye on it. It’s something we would think about it.”
As she did winning the Mt. Vernon at Belmont on May 27, Gitchee Goomie beat Hessonite by a half-length as New York-breds ran one-two in the Penny.
“Usually she gives you a heart attack when she comes to the wire,” Violette said. “This time she angled out, jumped through a hole, and it was kind of over.”
Gitchee Goomie, a 5-year-old daughter of City Zip, has finished first or second in 16 of 19 career starts and finished third in the Grade 1 Garden City here as a 3-year-old.
“She always shows up,” Violette said. “Always.”
Foot issue sidelines Rogue Romance
A foot issue prevented Rogue Romance from entering in Saturday’s Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap, trainer Ken McPeek said Wednesday.
“He’s got an issue with his right front foot,” McPeek said. “He’s going to be on the sidelines for a little while. I don’t know if it’s going to be short term or long term.”
Rogue Romance was coming off a fourth-place finish – beaten only two lengths – by Ron the Greek in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16.
Meanwhile, McPeek said that Unstoppable U, who finished fifth in the Dwyer Stakes, will get a freshening on McPeek’s Kentucky farm. He will return in the fall, McPeek said.
McPeek said Atigun, third in the Belmont Stakes, will run next in either the Jim Dandy or West Virginia Derby.
R Gypsy Gold takes Endear
R Gypsy Gold rallied four wide turning for home and outlasted a stubborn Opus A to win Wednesday’s $90,000 Endear Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Opus A.
R Gypsy Gold ($6.70), owned by Joyce Robsham and trained by Todd Pletcher, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.81 and returned $6.70 as the second choice. Tiz the Argument, the 6-5 favorite, finished third.
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