09/20/2012 1:28PM

Belmont: Musical Romance appears bigger, stronger for Gallant Bloom

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Musical Romance, who hasn't run since winning the Princess Rooney, will prep for the Breeders' Cup in the Gallant Bloom.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Bill Kaplan doesn’t see any reason Musical Romance can’t have as good a fall campaign this year as she did last year when she upset the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and was named champion female sprinter.

Musical Romance, away from the races for two months, will have her final prep for this year’s Breeders’ Cup on Saturday when she runs in the Grade 2, $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park.

“She’s gained weight. She’s a bigger, stouter mare and as sound today as the first day she ever raced,” Kaplan said Thursday morning before boarding a flight from south Florida to New York. “I have no excuses at this point. But if she doesn’t win I’ll find one.”

One excuse could be the depth of the Gallant Bloom field. The Gallant Bloom, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, drew a strong field of 10, including Grade 1 winners Turbulent Descent, Emma’s Encore, and the multiple graded winner C.C.’s Pal. Mildly Offensive was entered, but is expected to scratch, according to her trainer, Todd Pletcher.

Musical Romance is coming off a half-length victory in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder on July 7. Kaplan said he couldn’t find suitable transportation to get to a race such as the Ballerina at Saratoga, so he decided to wait for the Gallant Bloom, run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

“We were training all the way through. I didn’t breeze her because I couldn’t find a race we could get to,” Kaplan said. “She’s breezed beautifully into this race. I think she’s fine.”

Musical Romance is drawn in post 9 and will have regular rider Juan Leyva aboard.

Drawn to her outside is probable Gallant Bloom favorite Turbulent Descent, a four-time Grade 1 winner who has been favored in all 12 of her starts. Turbulent Descent comes off a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga, her first start for Pletcher, who took over her training following a private sale to the Coolmore connections.

Pletcher said he believes the Gallant Bloom would serve Turbulent Descent better than training up to the Breeders’ Cup.

“She’s doing well. We still got six weeks to the Breeders’ Cup. I just felt like waiting that long between races wasn’t going to improve her position necessarily,” Pletcher said. “The Ballerina was a good effort. I think she runs to her competition. She tends to idle a bit when she makes the lead.”

Emma’s Encore beat Judy the Beauty by a nose in the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga in August. Both 3-year-old fillies are back in this spot.

Allen Jerkens, the Hall of Fame trainer of Emma’s Encore, chose to skip the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga on Aug. 25 to await this spot for his diminutive filly.

“I just had a feeling it was too close and sometimes you got to go with your gut,” Jerkens said. “There’s not much to her. That’s why I think she’ll be good next year if he she gets by this year okay.”

With regular rider Junior Alvarado sidelined, Rosie Napravnik has picked up the mount on Emma’s Encore, who will break from post 7.

Wesley Ward, the trainer and owner of Judy the Beauty, also skipped the Test and has expressed great confidence that his filly is ready to run the best race of her career. She has never been worse than second in six career starts.

“She’s coming into the race as good as I could ever train a horse coming into a race,” Ward said.

C.C’s Pal, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., won the Grade 2 Vagrancy going 6 1/2 furlongs over this track in front-running fashion. She came from off the pace to win the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga last out. Junior Alvarado was her regular rider as well and has been replaced by Alan Garcia.

Honorable Miss runner-up Island Bound, listed stakes winner Dust and Diamonds, and New York-bred stakes winners Roman Treasure and Risky Rachel complete the field.