Roca Rojo scored her first graded stakes victory in style, pulling away to a decisive score in the Athenia. Away well, the bay was reserved in mid-pack by Javier Castellano, running just off the fence as pacesetter All in Fun (Tapit) clocked early fractions of :25.12 and :49.34. Advancing three wide entering the far turn, she was on the outside of a quartet of rivals that swallowed up the pacesetter in the lane, but was clearly going best of all. The 4-year-old powered clear of those foes in a matter of strides and cruised home a dominant winner.
“Javier really gave her a great trip,” said winning trainer Chad Brown, who also saddled third-place finisher Mexican Gold. “She loved the soft turf and was able to settle and finish really strong today. We really like the way she’s been developing.”
“It was a perfect trip,” said Castellano, who won three races Sunday, which was his 39th birthday. “European horses tend to come from behind so I covered her up and tried to save all the ground. When I took her up beside horses, she took off. It was impressive the way she did it today. Everything worked out perfect. We were able to sit off the pace and the ground was a little soft and she liked that. European horses tend to like that. It was wonderful, especially today. It’s my birthday.”
Previously campaigned by the Roca Partnership and trainer Adrian McGuiness in Ireland, Roca Rojo romped by 7 1/2 lengths in her debut at Killarney in May of last year and captured a Gowran Park test next out May 27. Privately purchased by bloodstock agent Pete Bradley on behalf of his Bradley Thoroughbreds, Sheep Pond Partners and Newport Stables, the Irish-bred filly was transferred to New York-based trainer Chad Brown and she won her debut for these connections in a seven-panel Belmont test June 30. Fourth in Saratoga’s De La Rose S. Aug. 6, she returned to winning ways going a mile in Elmont last time Sept. 15.
The winner is a half-sister to multimillionaire Beauty Flame, who won a Group 2 and was MG1SP in Hong Kong. Her dam produced a juvenile colt by Footstepsinthesand (GB) and a yearling colt by Kodiac (GB). She failed to get in foal to Australia (GB) last year.
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