07/04/2013 2:50PM

Calder: Judy the Beauty could give Ward first Grade 1 win in Princess Rooney

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Judy the Beauty (left) most recently was second to Beat the Blues in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs in May.

MIAMI – Trainer Wesley Ward’s frustrating quest to win a Grade 1 race should finally end Saturday afternoon at Calder, where Judy the Beauty tops a full field of 12 fillies and mares in the $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap.

The six-furlong Princess Rooney will share top billing on Saturday’s Summit of Speed program with the $350,000 Smile Sprint, a Grade 2 dash that lured a terrific field of 15 top sprinters, including reigning Eclipse champion Trinniberg. The 11-race Summit card, to be covered live on HRTV, also features four other stakes, including the Grade 3 Azalea and the Grade 3 Carry Back, and runs in direct conflict with an eight-race program being conducted just eight miles away at Gulfstream Park.

Ward’s history of near-misses in Grade 1 races stretches over several continents and includes second-place finishes by Judy the Beauty at Saratoga in the Spinaway at 2 and last summer, when she was nosed by Emma’s Encore in the Prioress. Judy the Beauty has started just twice this season, winning a high-priced optional claimer on Polytrack at Keeneland before again finishing second as the heavy favorite in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs.

“It certainly would be nice to finally get a Grade 1 and to get it right here in Florida,” Ward said. “We’ve been pointing her to this race ever since putting her back in training earlier this year. Normally, I might be concerned running a horse over the Calder surface for the first time, but Judy the Beauty worked 34 and 4 here as a 2-year-old and just skipped over the track.”

Judy the Beauty’s biggest asset is her versatility, which has helped her to finish first or second in all nine of her starts.

“She’s training great and had a beautiful work before leaving Kentucky,” Ward said. “She didn’t really have an excuse in the Winning Colors other than everything was smoking on the lead that day. There looks to be plenty of speed and pace in this race, and I’m hoping she’ll just settle, make a run, and when the field starts to separate, that her true quality will stand out.”

Five of Judy the Beauty’s 11 rivals will walk over to the paddock from the barn of trainer Marty Wolfson, who is seeking his fourth Princess Rooney victory. The Wolfson contingent is led by the speedy Spectacular Sky, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Inside Information this winter at Gulfstream; the win machine Starship Truffles; and the stretch-running Oh Carole, who finished a troubled second in the U Can Do It Handicap four weeks ago. Wolfson also will send out Givhans Ferry and Centrique.

Holiday Soiree, her stablemate, Costly, and Sweet Cassiopeia all have shipped into town for the race. The California-based Reneesgotzip also was entered but could not make travel connections and will be scratched.

Holiday Soiree, trained by Tevis McCauley, will attempt to rebound from a disappointing third-place finish as the odds-on favorite in Monmouth Park’s Red Cross Stakes on May 27. In her prior start, the well-traveled filly was third in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs.

“Her last race was a little disappointing, but she did catch a very speed-biased racetrack at Monmouth, and that certainly didn’t favor her closing style,” McCauley said. “Her success usually depends on pace scenario, and that’s one reason I brought the other filly along, to assure a fast pace.”

Sweet Cassiopeia has raced almost exclusively on turf and artificial surfaces, although she did win her only start on dirt in the West Virginia Secretary of State Stakes last summer at Mountaineer Park.

Capitalism At Risk, a former $6,250 claimer, brings a five-race winning streak into the Princess Rooney that includes a game nose decision over Oh Carole in the U Can Do It. She also figures to help ensure an honest pace, having been on the lead turning for home in all five of those victories.