ELMONT, N.Y. – Michael Imperio, Medallion Racing, Sofia Soares, Vincent Scuderi and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Bella Sofia exited her Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses triumph with plenty of energy, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez said her next start is still to be determined.
The 4-year-old daughter of Awesome Patriot is perfect through two starts this year, including a determined nose victory over Frank’s Rockette in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap on May 14 and a half-length score over Grade 1 winner Obligatory in the Bed o’ Roses on June 10. Bella Sofia has put together a sparkling resume that includes a Grade 1 triumph in the Longines Test at Saratoga Race Course last year and the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont.
Rodriguez said the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina on August 27 at Saratoga could be the dark bay filly’s next target. A win in the Ballerina would provide her a berth for a repeat trip to the Breeders’ Cup in the Grade 1 Filly and Mare Sprint in November at Keeneland.
“She came back good so far,” Rodriguez said. “She’s been going to the track and I’ve been trying to jog her a little bit but she wants to do more, so that’s a good sign. She looks good. I haven’t talked to the owners to see what the situation is yet, but we’ll nominate her for a couple races at Saratoga and see which ones are good. There’s a race at Keeneland, too. The Ballerina is probably where we want to run. We’ll try to get a little breather for her going into Breeders’ Cup.”
Bella Sofia, who has earned $840,100 through eight lifetime starts, is the fifth Grade 1 winner Rodriguez has conditioned, something he said he is thankful for.
“It’s great. We don’t have many in the barn like her,” said Rodriguez. “Right now, she’s the queen.”
A possible successor to Bella Sofia’s throne could be recent stakes winner Hot Peppers, who won Sunday’s Jersey Girl at Belmont with ease under Luis Saez.
Owned by Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso, the sophomore daughter of Khozan made her first start for Rodriguez in the Jersey Girl and lived up to her post-time favoritism, scoring a frontrunning 6 3/4-length victory in the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
“She’s got big shoes to fill, but she ran very impressively,” Rodriguez said. “I was kind of surprised. She was training good, and the public liked her because she went off as the favorite. Everything came up the right way and she prevailed quite nicely.”
Rodriguez indicated the bay filly could start in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 9 at Belmont before attempting to give him a repeat victory in the Longines Test on August 6.
“Mr. Dubb mentioned the Victory Ride, so we’ll nominate her for that and see. If I don’t like the way she’s coming, maybe we wait for the Test,” said Rodriguez. “I’m going to work very hard [to win the Test again]. There are a couple fillies that look very interesting, but the way she ran, she can compete right at the top of the division.”
Rodriguez added that La Marca Stable’s stakes winner Scuttlebuzz exited an 11th-place finish in the Grade 1 Jaipur on June 11 in good order after jockey Javier Castellano lost the crop at the eighth-pole in the six-furlong turf sprint. The son of The Factor entered the Jaipur from a surprise victory in the Elusive Quality over the Belmont lawn on April 30.
Rodriguez said Scuttlebuzz will have some time to regroup and may target the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 13 at Saratoga.
“He came back good. That was a tough race,” Rodriguez said. “If I wanted to look for an excuse, to drop the whip at the eighth-pole [wouldn’t be it]. He was already done. We just tried to jump too high. I think we’ve got to look for a race to stretch him out to a mile. We might give him another chance in the Fourstardave.”
The Elkstone Group’s Wudda U Think Now has been away from the races since a cool 4 1/4-length score in the six-furlong Hollie Hughes in February at Aqueduct, a hiatus that was caused by a quarter-crack in his hoof. Rodriguez said the 5-year-old Fast Anna gelding will return in an open allowance in Tuesday’s 10th race at Parx Racing.
“The quarter-crack caused us to lose a lot of races, but he’s coming along good and I just hope he likes Parx,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully this will be a stepping-stone to something at Saratoga; a stakes going seven-eighths would be perfect.”
Trevor McCarthy is named to ride Wudda U Think Now from post 3.
NYRA Press Office
Main Photo: Bella Sofia with Luis Saez getting chased to the finish in the Bed o’ Roses by Obligatory and Jose Ortiz. (Dom Napolitano)