11/15/2012 1:28PM

Delta Downs: Calder fillies figure prominently in Princess


Rose to Gold earned a shot at top-class competition last month after winning the first two starts of her career by 26 lengths. But an experiment in the Grade 1 Alcibiades went awry and has left Rose to Gold seeking a return to form Saturday in the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess.

Rose to Gold is part of a diverse nine-horse field that includes Salamera, runner-up in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga; Madame Cactus, who shipped in from Southern California to win the $150,000 My Trusty Cat, the local Princess prep; and Unhedged, undefeated winner of the $100,000 Presque Isle Debutante.

The Princess is for 2-year-old fillies at a mile and serves as a companion stakes to the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot. The races anchor a card that has eight stakes and will offer $2.2 million in purses. Both races also part of a $100,000-guaranteed pick four that has a 50-cent minimum. The Princess and Jackpot are the final legs in the all-stakes sequence, which runs from races 4-7.

[DELTA JACKPOT: Get PPs, watch full Saturday card live]

Rose to Gold caused a ruckus this summer at Calder when, in her career debut, she rolled to a 13-length win in the $61,000 Lindsay Frolic at a mile. Three weeks later she backed up the performance by winning the $70,000 Brave Raj, another two-turn race on the main track at Calder, by 13 1/2 lengths. Rose to Gold then took on Grade 1 competition in the Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 5. She finished 12th at 6-1, her first defeat.

“We went to the Alcibiades, which was on Polytrack, and she hated it,” said Sal Santoro, who trains Rose to Gold for Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti. “The rider told me after the race that we wasted our time coming up here running on the Poly. He said she never got into the hunt. She wasn’t comfortable on it.”

Rose to Gold, who had shipped to Keeneland about 10 days prior to the Alcibiades, returned to Calder and has thrived, said Santoro.

“We got her back home and she kind of fell into her old routine,” said Santoro. “She started eating good again, started putting on weight again. She was happy just to be back in familiar surroundings, or happy to be training on a surface that she likes.”

Santoro said the Princess became the target because it is run on dirt. Paco Lopez, who according to Santoro flew to Calder to work Rose to Gold on Nov. 10, will be aboard her in a race for the first time. Rose to Gold will break from the rail.

“She’ll do what the rider asks her to do,” said Santoro. “She’ll relax and wait. For a 2-year-old, she’s very mature.”

Salamera is another Princess starter who last ran in a Grade 1. She was fifth in the Chandelier at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, beaten 14 lengths at 5-1.

“We went to Santa Anita hoping the race would point us to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Rodolfo Garcia, who trains Salamera for Tanourin Stable. “She didn’t ship well, she didn’t run her best race, but we felt we needed a better race to justify going to the Breeders’ Cup, so at that point we regrouped and brought her back to Calder.”

Salamera, a sprint stakes winner to be ridden by Angel Castillo, will be seeking her first win at two turns and Garcia is hopeful she will handle the trip based on her effort in the 6 1/2-furlong Adirondack.

“She galloped out so strong she gave me an indication she wanted, or needed, more distance,” he said.

Salamera will be Garcia’s first starter over Delta’s six-furlong track.

“I’ve been watching videos left and right,” he said. “I don’t ever remember running a horse on a three-quarter-mile track. It’s funny, I was talking to my rider and I didn’t think he’d ever ridden on a three-quarter track, and he did, in Venezuela. At least one of us knows what we’re doing!”

Madame Cactus knows the Delta track well, as she stalked and pounced in the My Trusty Cat. She is trained by Steve Asmussen, who has won the Princess twice, in 2004 with Punch Appeal and 2008 with Four Gifts.