05/24/2011 2:00PM

Calder: Kaplan's audible works out fine

Jim Lisa Photos
Musical Romance, with Juan Leyva riding, wins the Ema Bovary.

MIAMI – Trainer Bill Kaplan could have ended up spending Sunday night second-guessing himself after opting to pass Saturday’s Sara’s Success Stakes on the grass with Musical Romance in lieu of the 5 1/2-furlong Ema Bovary the following afternoon. Instead, the veteran horseman looked like a genius after his versatile filly rallied to catch the 6-5 Bella Moneta to win the Ema Bovary by a nose.

Musical Romance had generally been regarded more of a two-turn specialist than a sprinter and better on turf than dirt coming into the Ema Bovary, even though she had won her maiden going six furlongs and a three-other-than allowance race at seven furlongs over the main track earlier in her career. But her previous start was one of the best yet, a second-place finish behind the odds-on Cherokee Queen in the 7 1/2-furlong Hollywood Wildcat Handicap on the turf here opening day.

Kaplan originally intended to keep Musical Romance on the turf for the Sara’s Success before learning the Ema Bovary was coming up a short field, with the bulk of the lineup coming from trainer Marty Wolfson’s barn. So he cross-entered Musical Romance for a look-see and ultimately liked what he saw.

“The main reason I decided to run in the sprint was because the turf course has been hard and dry and everything has been staying up front,” Kaplan explained. “Nobody has been closing. That and the fact I knew there was going to be a short field in the sprint race and I was thinking about trying her in the U Can Do It in a few weeks anyway.”

Musical Romance appeared destined to come out second-best after Bella Moneta opened a four-length lead at the eighth pole of the Ema Bovary. But she and jockey Juan Leyva never gave up, cutting steadily into that advantage through the final furlong before nailing the leader right on the wire.

Musical Romance, a daughter of Concorde’s Tune, earned a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure for her performance.

“I was pleased with her, and I was pleased with the perfect ride she got from Juan,” said Kaplan. “She’s always run well sprinting. She won a seven-eighths race here in 1:24 as a 3-year-old. She can do anything. She’s got a lot of talent. Now we’ll look at the U Can Do It, and if things go well I might even consider the Princess Rooney later this summer.”

The U Can Do It will be decided on June 11, while the Grade 1 Princess Rooney highlights the Summit of Speed card here on July 9. Both races are carded at six furlongs.

Romacaca picks up pieces

The absence of Musical Romance made Romacaca’s job a little easier in the Sara’s Success, as she took advantage of the speed-favoring turf course to register a wire-to-wire 1 1/2-length decision over the multiple stakes winner Trip for A.J. The win was the third in a row for Romacaca, a 5-year-old daughter of Running Stag who is trained by Nick Canani for owner Frank Calabrese.

Romacaca also gave Canani and Calabrese their first local stakes win. Calabrese opted to campaign a full stable at Calder for the first time this spring and summer instead of returning to Arlington Park per usual following the conclusion of the Gulfstream Park session. The team combined for seven victories during the opening month of the meet, putting Calabrese atop the owner standings and Canani third behind only Henry Collazo and Antonio Sano in the race for the training title.

Defending champ Luis Saez holds a 26-17 advantage over Jose Alvarez in the jockey standings entering Thursday’s card. Leyva, who won two races on Sunday, jumped to sixth on the list with nine wins.

Where’s Sterling to step up

Canani and Calabrese also have one of the 14 nominees to Monday’s $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap, Where’s Sterling, who has captured two of his last three starts but has yet to venture into stakes company. Where’s Sterling was one of two prospective Memorial Day starters to work on Monday, going an easy half-mile in 51.20 seconds in company with stablemate Hariolus. He was joined on the tab by the multiple graded stakes winner Mambo Meister, who breezed the same distance in 49.40 seconds before galloping out five eighths in 1:02.60 for trainer Phil Gleaves.

Mambo Meister is among the leading candidates for the 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day along with Jackson Bend, Mad Flatter and Motovato.

◗ Saratoga Tango, who has started just twice since capturing the 2010 Ema Bovary, worked an easy half-mile in 51.90 seconds from the gate on Tuesday for trainer Marty Wolfson. Saratoga Tango finished eighth last summer in the Princess Rooney. Wolfson also sent out Cherokee Queen to breeze a half in 49.60 seconds several hours earlier.

◗ The turf course got a bit of a break this week, with no grass races carded on Thursday’s eight-race program following the regular three dark days on the schedule Monday through Wednesday. Turf racing resumes here Friday.