06/27/2016 1:46PM

Spelling Again invades for Princess Rooney

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Spelling Again wins the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes last November.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Brad Cox will attempt to make his former claimer Spelling Again a two-time Grade 2 winner when he ships her to town from her home base at Churchill Downs for Saturday’s $250,000 Princess Rooney.

Cox haltered Spelling Again in the interests of Seajay Racing LLC for $40,000 at Santa Anita in May 2015. Since then, the daughter of Awesome Again has captured three of nine starts, including the Grade 2 Chilukki going a mile last fall at Churchill Downs. She is winless in three outings this season but has finished third in both the Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 3 Winning Colors in her last two tries.  

“Our main goal with her is to win races, increase her broodmare value, and we thought it might help if she were to win another Grade 2 like the Princess Rooney,” said Cox. “The shipping is free, and it doesn’t look like the race is coming up that tough if Sheer Drama isn’t in there, which is still a question at the moment.

“We’re really not going down because it’s a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup, although if she does win and does get it, that might change what we plan for her the rest of the year.”

Cox said that although she’s winless in 2016, Spelling Again hasn’t run poorly this year.

“She’s had a little bad luck along the way so far,” said Cox. “We ran her in the Grade 1 [Madison] to start out because it usually comes up about a six- or seven-horse field at most, but this year it came up with 11 and with fillies like Sheer Drama and Stopchargingmaria in there. She finished seventh and got checked a little bit around the turn. We sent her up to New York next for the one-turn mile in the Ruffian, and she hooked two really good mares in Cavorting and Carrumba but beat everyone else and really didn’t make a bad showing.

“She didn’t like the dirt in her face early on in the Winning Colors, then came flying down the middle of the track and probably would have won in a couple of more jumps.”

Cox breezed Spelling Again four furlongs in a very slow 52 seconds at Churchill Downs last Saturday but said the work was much better than it looks on paper.

“She’s kind of a cantankerous filly and can be pretty tough to train at times,” Cox said. “It’s probably why they kept putting her in for a tag in California. She broke off super slow, was kind of reluctant to start, but then went out a mile in 1:43. She just basically kept throwing [13-second furlongs] all the way, so I wouldn’t put a lot of weight into her final time.”

Cox said Luis Saez, who was aboard Spelling Again in the Ruffian and for her third-place finish at Aqueduct in the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap in her 2015 finale, will have the mount here Saturday.

Trainer Marty Wolfson sent out two of his three Princess Rooney nominees to work at Gulfstream on Monday. Cali Star, the winner of the Grade 3 Rampart here last fall, sizzled a bullet half-mile in 46.77 seconds prior to the break, with Kiss to Remember completing the same distance about an hour later in a more leisurely 49.01 with a big five-furlong gallop-out of 1:01.69. Wolfson also nominated his Grade 3 winner Best Behavior to the race.

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