06/22/2012 4:19PM

Calder: Sassy Image may not defend Princess Rooney title

Barbara D. Livingston
Sassy Image won last year's Princess Rooney at Calder.

MIAMI – A couple of weeks ago, it looked like there was a very good chance that the defending champs from both main events on the July 7 Summit of Speed program – Smile Sprint hero Giant Ryan and Princess Rooney winner Sassy Image – would be back to defend their titles. Now, there’s a possibility neither will be here.

Giant Ryan’s story is a sad one. The 2011 New York-bred horse of the year was euthanized less than a week after suffering fractured sesamoids during the running of the True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Giant Ryan left behind a r é sum é that included a game neck decision over Irrefutable in last year’s Grade 2 Smile, a victory that earned him a free berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Sassy Image turned in the most eye-catching performance on the 2011 Summit program, making up more than 15 lengths through the final quarter-mile, despite a very wide trip, to outfinish Musical Romance in the Princess Rooney. But her trainer, Dale Romans, is up in the air about whether to bring her back to south Florida for a return engagement.

Sassy Image has started just once since being sidelined due to a chip in her hind ankle discovered last October while training for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, a race ultimately won by the locally based Musical Romance. Sassy Image finished a distant sixth behind Groupie Doll when launching her comeback last month in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff.

“Right now, I’m not sure whether I’ll bring her back to Calder or leave her here at Churchill Downs,” Romans said. “Her last race was inexplicable to me. I thought she’d really run big, although we’d have never beaten the winner that day. When on her game, she’s as good a horse as there is anywhere. My filly has been training like she was last year. But I’m going to take my time with her and hope to have a strong second half of the season while pointing for the Breeders’ Cup in November.”

Whether Sassy Image passes on the Princess Rooney or not, Musical Romance is likely to go postward the favorite over her home course while coming off a game second-place finish in the Humana Distaff. Another confirmed starter for the race, according to stakes coordinator Sean Perl, is Bouquet Booth, who is based at Churchill Downs.

Bouquet Booth, a 4-year-old daughter of Flower Alley trained by Steve Margolis, is coming off the best performance of her career from a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint, a six-length optional claiming win for which she earned a career-best 95 Beyer. Bouquet Booth appears to be settling in nicely as a sprinter after racing exclusively at distances of a mile or longer at 2 and 3. She finished fifth, beaten just more than three lengths by Plum Pretty, in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks.

Citizen’s Advocate targets Azalea

Trainer David Vivian Jr. said Friday that he is definitely pointing his top 3-year-old filly, Citizen’s Advocate, to the Grade 3 Azalea on Summit of Speed Day. Citizen’s Advocate is coming off a tough setback when beaten a neck by longshot Another Romance after opening a long lead at midstretch of the Leave Me Alone Stakes here earlier this month.

“It was a tough beat and Juan [Leyva] rode her great, he followed instructions to a T,” Vivian said. “But I’m going to bring in Cornelio [Velasquez] for the Azalea. I always have such good luck and a good feeling when I ride him.”