07/02/2009 12:00AM

Indian Blessing not scaring off rivals


MIAMI - The announcement earlier this week that Indian Blessing was heading to Calder for the July 11 Summit of Speed program figured to keep the starting lineup for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap to a minimum. But as of Thursday, that did not appear to be the case, with eight or nine rivals prepared to line up against the reigning filly and mare sprint champion.

Among the out-of-towners still planning to ship in for the Princess Rooney are Dubai Majesty, Keep the Peace, and Game Face. The connections of all three confirmed Thursday that the Princess Rooney remained on their schedules, despite the imposing presence of an Eclipse Award winner in the lineup.

"I sure didn't expect Bob [Baffert] to bring her out there, but we've been planning this a long time and we're still going to come," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Dubai Majesty.

Dubai Majesty comes here off a one-length victory in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs. Three weeks earlier, the 4-year-old daughter of Essence of Dubai just missed becoming a Grade 1 winner when finishing third after opening a long lead at midstretch in Churchill's Humana Distaff.

"She's got speed to steal away on the lead if she needs to, and I thought we'd stolen the Humana when they turned into the stretch," Calhoun said. "But she's pretty versatile and proved she can come from off the pace if need be in the Sunshine Millions down there at Gulfstream Park. Kent [Desormeaux] took her back, and she ran a huge race that day."

Dubai Majesty prepped for the Princess Rooney by working four furlongs in 49.40 seconds on Thursday at Churchill Downs.

Dubai Majesty will share a flight to south Florida with Keep the Peace who finished second via a disqualification in the Winning Colors. Keep the Peace has yet to win a graded stakes but has been graded stakes placed five times.

"We didn't expect Indian Blessing, but she's doing well and I'm looking forward to coming down there," said Keep the Peace's trainer, Eddie Kenneally.

Kenneally is still trying to line up a jockey for Keep the Peace. Kenneally had hoped to get Edgar Prado, who has already ridden Keep the Peace to a pair of graded stakes placings, but trainer Todd Pletcher said Thursday that Prado will instead ride Game Face in the Princess Rooney.

Among the others expected for the Princess Rooney are locals B R's Girl, Jessica Is Back, Marina Ballerina, Orinoquia, and Pious Ashley. The lone 3-year-old nominated to the race, Kays and Jays, remains a possibility, although she is more likely to stay with her own age group in the Grade 3 Azalea, which also will be run on Summit of Speed Day.

* Heavy rains and dangerous lightning forced management to delay the start of Thursday's fifth race for nearly 45 minutes. The five-furlong filly and mare optional claiming event was then further delayed after two of the seven scheduled starters broke through the starting gate and ran off with one of them, Fresh Call, eventually scratched.

The long wait finally proved worth it for the connections and backers of Girl Glitter, who led throughout to win the event, which was originally scheduled to be run on the turf.

* Former track announcer Phil Saltzman was back in his old spot high atop the grandstand on Thursday, filling in for current track announcer Bobby Neuman, who is on vacation. Saltzman is slated to fill in for Neuman through Sunday.

* Apprentice Noel Vigil won both ends of Thursday's early daily double, guiding home El Vulgaro in the opener and Ghost Story in the second race. The two wins vaulted Vigil into fifth place in the standings and keeps him ahead of Luis Colon and Eddie Dominguez in quest of leading apprentice honors at the meet.