After ‘Building Block’ 2018 Debut, Champion Caledonia Road Set To Battle Kentucky Oaks Winner In Acorn

by | 05.29.2018 | 2:32pm
Champion Caledonia Road won her 2018 debut against allowance/optional claiming company at Belmont Park

Reigning 2-year-old champion filly Caledonia Road continues to progress on her journey back to stakes company in the Grade 1, $700,000 Acorn for sophomore fillies at a mile on June 9, where she's expected to face Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl and two-time Grade 1 winner Moonshine Memories, among others.

The 3-year-old Quality Road filly turned in a sharp bullet work on Saturday and has emerged in good order, said trainer Ralph Nicks on Tuesday. In that move, her last serious training before the June 6 race, Caledonia Road broke well behind her workmate, a 3-year-old New York-bred filly, and easily usurped her company in the stretch. She crossed the wire by open lengths over her stablemate to complete five furlongs in :59.84, her second bullet work in a row and the fastest of 12 at the distance.

Owned by Zoom and Fish Stable, Charlie Spiring, and Newtown Anner Stud, Caledonia Road is exiting a 3 ½-length win in a one-mile optional claiming race on April 29 at Belmont Park, where she earned a career-high 84 Beyer Speed Figure as the 1-5 favorite. It was her first race since clinching the Eclipse Award with a 3 ¼-length victory at 17-1 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Del Mar.

“She needed a good work,” Nicks said of Saturday's breeze. “Obviously, it'll be her second race off the layoff and in her first race back, she wasn't what I would call 100 percent for her best effort that day. It was a building block to the Acorn and of course to the rest of the year. I would expect her to move forward off of the last race and if we're good enough, we can catch them around a one-turn mile.

“I expect a good effort from her,” he added. “She's training well, looks good, appetite's good. We'll see how we stack up against the Oaks champion and a couple other ones in there. It's not going to be an easy race.”

Assistant trainer Heather Smullen is overseeing the Belmont string for Nicks, based in Florida for much of the year. Smullen is also the regular exercise rider for Caledonia Road, who Nicks said will “open gallop” into the race.

He added that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will have the call in the Acorn. Smith, who will ride the undefeated Justify in his bid for the Triple Crown, was also aboard for her Breeders' Cup win.

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