Rossa Veloce much the best in $100K Correction under skilled Manny Franco. (Susie Raisher)
By Keith McCalmont
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Robert A. Derr’s New York-bred Rossa Veloce romped to a 5 1/4-length frontrunning victory under jockey Manny Franco in Saturday’s $100,000 Correction, a six-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by the red-hot Rob Atras, who has won with seven of his last eight starters here, the 5-year-old Girolamo mare has now won 4-of-5 starts on the Aqueduct main track since being haltered for $32,000 out of a close fourth-place finish in September at Saratoga Race Course. Her lone loss in that stretch was a runner-up effort to graded-stakes placed Union Lake on New Year’s Eve.
“Our plan was to break sharp and get out there and if we can hold our own on the front, we’ll do it,” Atras said. “If someone wants to go, Manny is smart and knows what to do. I think he made the right decision. That was his plan from the get go when he established the lead. He took pressure, but I thought he had enough and the way she had been doing, I thought she would kick clear.”
Atras started a win streak on Sunday at the Big A with Super Quality and won four more races when racing returned on Friday here. He saddled three horses Saturday at Aqueduct, extending his win streak to six after taking the opener with Warman Roadbefore Jokemeisterfinished off-the-board in Race 6, ending his chance to equal a NYRA record of eight consecutive winners shared by John Parisella , Angel Penna, Sr. , Oscar Barrera , and Edward I. Kelly .
“It’s racing. I lose way more than I win. Obviously, we want to keep winning all the time,” Atras said. “We went three weeks without winning a race with some seconds and thirds. But we never got down, we were happy, and everyone was doing well. This week we got the horses in the right spots, we got the right trips and tracks. It just happened to work that way and that’s where racing goes. You can’t get too down, and you can’t get too high. You just have to keep it level and hope for the best all the time.”
Rossa Veloce was hustled out of the inside post to take command through splits of 23.28 seconds and 46.93 over the sloppy and sealed main track, while being pressed from the outside by Fouette.
She maintained her lead through the turn as the Trevor McCarthy-piloted Prodigy Doll advanced from third position to the inside of Secret Love with Easy to Bless launching her wide bid from fifth. But there was no catching the winner, who kicked clear by 2 1/2-lengths at the stretch call and stopped the clock in a final time of 1:11.16.
Prodigy Doll completed the exacta by 1 3/4-lengths over Fouette with Easy to Bless, I’m Buzzy, Secret Love and Big Tentations completing the order of finish. Self Isolation was scratched.
Atras said he was hoping Rossa Veloce would continue to find more at the top of the lane.
“I didn’t think they were going too fast, and I thought we had the best horse. But you’re always concerned when there’s pressure on the front end,” Atras said. “Sometimes they can’t kick clear from that, but Manny looked like he had a lot of horse and it looked like he saved some horse at the same time. I thought she was traveling quite comfortably and obviously he had the horse because she kicked on.
“What makes her so good is she doesn’t necessarily need the front end,” Atras continued. “But with an inside post on a sloppy and sealed track, you’ve got to go. That’s the cool thing that makes her great is that she can sit off the pace.”
Franco admitted to being concerned about the inside draw.
“Sometimes, she’s fast, but sometimes she breaks a step slow and then she goes. But today, she just broke so sharp. I think that was the key,” said Franco, the Big A winter meet’s leading rider, who won with 5-of-7 mounts on Friday here. “My filly was doing what she liked – to be in front. She went with her ears pricked up and waited for my call. When I called on her, she was there for me and she got it done.”
Prodigy Doll, a stakes-winning daughter of Shanghai Bobby trained by Phil Schoenthal, entered from a troubled fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie on February 18 at Laurel Park.
McCarthy said Prodigy Doll performed admirably in her first start in New York.
“I got a really good trip and was able to kind of stalk in the pocket there,” McCarthy said. “I got outside at the five-sixteenths pole and she seemed to finish well. She was just second-best.”
Atras credited Derr with taking a chance on Rossa Veloce, who ran second in the Key Cents at the Big A as a juvenile. Despite the back class, the chestnut had finished a distant seventh in her two starts prior to being haltered by Atras, including being claimed for $45,000 in July.
“Bob Derr called me about the filly last summer at Saratoga. I looked at her and it looked like she had some really good races,” Atras said. “She had gone off form, but he liked her. I got to give full credit to him. I get a little gun-shy when you see a horse going the other way. You really don’t know if you want to claim them, but he wanted to take a shot at her. She looked good that day so we took a shot and it worked out.”
Rossa Veloce, out of the Hard Spun mare Spuntastic, was purchased for $12,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.
Bred in the Empire State by John Scott Rogers, Rossa Veloce banked $55,000 in victory while improving her record to 25-9-4-2. Her career earnings now stand at $476,510. She returned $2.90 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card featuring the $100,000 Biogio’s Rose in Race 3. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.