07/09/2011 6:04PM

Calder: Sassy Image from way back

Jim Lisa
Sassy Image and jockey Mike Smith come back winners after the Princess Rooney.

MIAMI - With Zenyatta's regular rider, Mike Smith aboard and in a finish reminiscent of the champion mare herself, Sassy Image rallied from nearly 20 lengths off the lead down the center of the track to post an incredible neck decision over Musical Romance in Saturday's $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder on Saturday.

The Grade 1 Princess Rooney was the last and easily the most exciting of the four graded stakes on Calder's marquee event, the Summit of Speed.

Sassy Image, the 8-5 favorite, dropped almost 20 lengths off the pace before the field had completed a quarter-mile of the six-furlong Princess Rooney and was still nearly a dozen lengths behind the leaders when they turned into the stretch after completing a bristling opening half-mile in 44.98 seconds.

The field bunched up with seven horses across the track within less than a length of each other at the eighth pole as Sassy Image steadily began to close in on the pack. With Smith driving left-handed and then switching back to a right-hand stick inside the sixteenth pole, Sassy Image completed her amazing run by overtaking Musical Romance in the final yards to register her second Grade 1 win of the year.

Musical Romance, who entered the Princess Rooney off narrow victories in a pair of local sprint stakes, split rivals near the eighth pole and briefly edged clear in late stretch, only to be run down in the shadow of the wire. Indulgence rallied from next to last to finish third, another length behind Musical Romance.

Sassy Image, a daughter of Broken Vow, is trained by Dale Romans for his brother Jerry. She paid $5.20 after completing the distance in 1:11.61 over a track upgraded from sloppy to "good" earlier in the day.

"Mike said she just wasn't getting hold of the track at all in the early going," said Romans. "Considering she didn't like the track, it might have been her most impressive race ever."

Romans said Sassy Image, clearly the current leader in the filly and mare sprint division would go on to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Ballerina on August 27 before returning home for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 4.