06/07/2017 12:56PM

Roca Rojo has breakthrough opportunity

Emily Shields
Roca Rojo (outside) is chasing her first Grade 1 win in Saturday's Just a Game Stakes.

Roca Rojo has a chance to make a statement on Saturday as she takes on Dickinson and Celestine in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes.

The Irish-born mare won three of her first five starts in the U.S. last year, including the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes on the Belmont turf, and finished second by a nose to Miss Temple City in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes. Roca Rojo continued her ascent by rallying to win the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard five weeks ago.

Roca Rojo is by Strategic Prince, a Dansili horse who was Group 1-placed as a juvenile and a Group 2 winner sprinting in England. The stallion launched his stud career in Ireland, shuttled to Uruguay, and now stands at Haras La Leyenda in Argentina.

The Just a Game provides Roca Rojo the opportunity to post one of the biggest victories in her family’s history. Despite the line’s accomplishments around the globe, she would become just the second Grade/Group 1 winner for her sire and the first for her immediate female family.

From six crops of racing age, Strategic Prince is the sire of just five stakes winners, with his lone Group 1 winner La Collona, who took the Matron and Phoenix stakes in Ireland. He is also represented by the well traveled Volatile, a Scandinavian champion, a stakes winner in Dubai, and Group 3-placed in England and France. Saent is a Group 2 winner in Italy, and Tones is a stakes winner in the U.S.

Roca Rojo’s dam, Lucy Diamonds – by Orpen, the most successful son from the limited stud career of Lure – was unplaced on the flat and over jumps but is the dam of two winners from as many starters, including Beauty Flame, a Group 2 winner and multiple Group 1-placed in Hong Kong.

There is no black type under Roca Rojo’s second dam. Her third dam is Irish Group 2-placed stakes winner Nazwa, the dam of stakes winner Saintly Lass. It is the family of Italian Group 3 winner Golden Kabbuby and several stakes performers in India, including Vijay Damini, who won the Indian 1000 Guineas.