Amalio Ruiz-Lozano's Ceci Valentina is scheduled to seek her second straight victory in the 2019 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series Saturday in the $400,000 My Dear Girl at Gulfstream Park.
The My Dear Girl, the 1 1/16-mile final leg of the lucrative series for 2-year-old fillies sired by nominated stallions standing in Florida, will co-headline Saturday's program with the $400,000 In Reality for colts and geldings. A total of eight stakes worth $1.325 million in purses will be contested on the 14-race card.
Ceci Valentina demonstrated considerable resiliency as well as talent while winning the $200,000 FSS Susan's Girl Aug. 31, overcoming trouble twice on her way to a 1 ½-length triumph in the seven-furlong sprint.
“She's very smart. She was in a lot of trouble last time. She broke from the gate and was pinched back. When she made her move a jock fell off his horse in front of her. When she saw him, she went around and checked. Then, when she turned for home, she checked again and had to go around everybody, and she still won,” trainer Angel Rodriguez said. “She was finishing strong, it wasn't like she was pleading for the wire. She kept going.”
Ceci Valentina's performance in the Susan's Girl has given Rodriguez confidence that the daughter of Prospective will be suited to the two-turn distance of the My Dear Girl.
“I think she's going to love it. Distance is not a problem for her, Last time, she was in a lot of trouble. She was last and she was able to recover,” Rodriguez said. “I think distance will be even better for her.”
Ceci Valentina finished third in her July 14 debut at five furlongs but graduated in her next start, closing from fifth to win by three lengths at 5 ½ furlongs Sept. 3 before scoring in the Susan's Girl.
“I knew her when she was a baby in Ocala. The owner is a friend or mine and I went to see her. He told me, 'She's going to be a nice horse.' I looked at her and she had a nice body, nice conformation. Told him, 'I think you are right.'” Rodriguez said.
Ceci Valentina was entered in the 2018 OBS October yearling sale but didn't meet her reserve and was brought home.
“When she went to the track, she did everything right. She's very special and a very sweet horse,” Rodriguez said.
Marcos Meneses has the return mount aboard the homebred filly.
William Churly's Cajun Delight is slated to make her first FSS start in the My Dear Girl following an auspicious Sept. 8 debut.
The Bob Hess Jr.-trained filly shook off early pressure before drawing off to a 5 ½ length victory at six furlongs.
“She has a ton of ability. Bill and I will concede that she will probably ultimately be a one-turn horse, but historically, I've always felt that you can get away with first-time going long with a sprinter – they'll run a bang-up race, and probably never duplicate that again going long,” Hess said. “We're taking a shot. It's a ton of money. We've conceded that we're going to give her a long time off. We're hoping it's a great day but we also realize we're asking a ton of her.”
Albin Jimenez has the return call on the homebred daughter of Kantharos.
All Together Stable and Gary Andrew Grant's Bahamian Girl, runner-up in the Susan's Girl, will try to turn the tables on Ceci Valentina in the My Dear Girl. The daughter of Bahamian Squall had previously finished fourth in the Desert Vixen, the first FSS leg, and third in the Golden Isles Stakes.
The Anna Varsi-trained filly made a strong move coming off the final turn to make a serious bid for victory before having to settle for second money in the Susan's Girl.
Luca Panici has the turn mount aboard Bahamian Girl, who broke her maiden in her second career start.
William Stiritz's Awesome Indra, who finished third in the Susan's Girl, is set for a return in the My Dear Girl. The Scott Becker-trained filly was steadied following the start in the Susan's Girl before closing from eighth to third, a half-length behind Bahamian Girl.
The daughter of Awesome of Course, who is still a maiden, will be ridden by Samy Camacho.
The Mark Casse-trained duo of Two Sixty and Dienda will be seeking to rebound from troubled trips in the Susan's Girl. Gary Barber's Two Sixty, who finished third in the Desert Vixen after bumping at the start, ducked out in traffic on the backstretch and unseated her rider. Dienda, who broker her maiden July 21 after finishing second in her first two starts, had to be steadied and taken to the outside on the backstretch to avoid the fallen rider, finishing seventh.
Edgard Zayas will return on Two Sixty, while Emisael Jaramillo will once again be aboard Dienda.
Arindel will be represented by a trio of homebred daughters of Brethren in the My Dear Girl: Filly Jean King, Rain, and Tara. Filly Jean King, who finished fourth in a five-furlong turf stakes last time out; Rain finished eighth in the Susan's Girl after breaking her maiden for a $35,000 claiming tag in her fourth career start; Tara is winless in two starts.
Miguel Vasquez is named on Filly Jean King, while Jairo Rendon will ride Rain and Reylu Gutierrez will be aboard Tara.
Monarch Stables Inc.'s Let's Be Honest, who finished fourth in an allowance off a three-month layoff from a maiden score June 8; Granpollo Stable's Gran Reserva, who defeated $35,000 claiming maidens last time out; and John Liviakis' Patty Heaney, winless in two starts; round out the field.
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