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Birdatthewire Needs Pace in Princess Rooney

Birdatthewire Needs Pace in Princess Rooney by Reinier Macatangay: Before Forum Racing’s Birdatthewire lost her last two starts, it was assumed seven to eight furlongs and one turn was the perfect situation for this filly. Instead, Birdatthewire’s perfect record at seven furlongs turned into 2 for 4, and she now holds a four-race losing streak, bringing into question the real reason for the better performances.

Birdatthewire Princess Rooney 2016

Birdatthewire, pictured above in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, enters the Princess Rooney Stakes for trainer Dale Romans with 8-5 morning line odds.
Photo: Lauren King, Coglianese

At Gulfstream Park on Saturday, the Dale Romans-trained Birdatthewire will attempt to turn the tables in yet another seven-furlong race, the $250,000 Princess Rooney Stakes (GII) for fillies and mares.

To win, Birdatthewire will need to make the best of her closing style once again. A common problem for closers is a reliance on a favorable pace scenario, and she tends to only get up with a moderate to fast tempo.

But, Romans believes a one-turn race at seven to eight furlongs is the main reason for Birdatthewire’s success.

“She’s shown she’s better around one turn, seven-eighths to a mile,” Romans said.

His statement is worth an examination.

When Birdatthewire broke her maiden at Churchill Downs in 2014, the first half went in a swift 45.20 seconds for a two-turn route, and she took advantage late.

Just one race later in the Forward Gal Stakes (GII) last year at Gulfstream, the raw fractions give the impression of ordinary at first glance with 22.50 for the opening quarter and 45.36 for the half mile. Handicappers who use TimeformUS though will notice the fractions are marked in red, which means a quick pace.

Two races later when she won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII), the pace was at least moderate. Notably, the 3-1 pacesetter Ekati’s Phaeton faded all the way to seventh, and 3-1 Devine Aida, who pressed in third, dropped to fourth and eight lengths off the eventual winner.

After going on the shelf following a credible fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), Birdatthewire returned months later in the Chilukki Stakes (GII), a one-turn mile on the same track, and TimeformUS designated the six-furlong fraction as slow in blue. Unsurprisingly, she lost by over eight lengths and finished fifth again.

To close out 2015, Birdatthewire competed in the La Brea Stakes (GI), and she won with a fast pace. While the half mile “only” went in 45.35 seconds, TimeformUS marked the fraction in red.

Then she returned this year to lose four in a row, with none of those races featuring a fast pace. None of the races in the current losing streak featured a slow pace either, but the point is, people overrated Birdatthewire’s one-turn ability. Notice, she owns the same amount of two-turn victories as one-turn wins.

In her favor, she also owns an overall 3-2-1-0 record at Gulfstream, which encouraged the trainer to come here (connections typically go north during the summer months). There is also an extra Breeders’ Cup incentive.

“She really likes the track at Gulfstream. There’s a nice purse and it’s a ‘Win & You’re In’ race,” said Romans for the press release.

The other runners appear capable of taking that spot in the Breeders’ Cup too. Bettors should pay attention to the two Marty Wolfson-trained fillies, Cali Star and Kiss to Remember. Neither of them are so exciting, but Cali Star won the Rampart Stakes (GIII) last December, while Kiss to Remember offers a consistent late kick.

In addition, Willow Hills makes her first start for David Fawkes, although his 0 for 6 record with horses coming off a layoff between 163-273 days is a bit worrisome.

Give consideration to Spelling Again as well, especially with her consistently high speed figures and class. If she needs to, this 5-year-old mare is capable of displaying speed.

The summer months tend to shift focus away from Gulfstream to other racetracks, but this weekend, the attention shifts back temporarily. Hopefully, for Birdatthewire, the momentum can shift back too and for more than one race. Use Birdatthewire with the other discussed entrants and hope she flies towards the end.

Princess Rooney Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 12 6:02p.m. ET
1 Cali Star 9-2 Velasquez/Wolfson
2 Be Mind Phil 30-1 Camacho/Palacios Molina
3 Willow Hills 10-1 Leyva/Fawkes
4 Birdatthewire 8-5 Gaffalione/Romans
5 Concealedwithakiss 20-1 Navarro/Duco
6 My Miss Venezuela 15-1 Hernandez/Tessore
7 Spelling Again 3-1 Saez/Cox
8 Kiss to Remember 5-1 Jaramillo/Wolfson