Romantic Vision Holds Off Martini Glass in Spinster
By Alicia Wincze Hughes, courtesy Blood-Horse
Rusty Arnold knew exactly what the plan for Romantic Vision was if the 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid did not cross the finish line first in the Oct. 8 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1).
"I could have told you where we were going had she not won," the Kentucky-based trainer said. "We were going in the (grade 2) Falls City (at Churchill Downs Nov. 23) and then she was retired. She would have been done."
As Arnold spoke, his wry grin told the story of the happy problem he now has of having some fresh decisions to make regarding Romantic Vision's immediate future.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s homebred mare has the option of making a detour to California before her broodmare career is set to commence thanks to her 1 1/8-mile tour around the Keeneland main track Sunday. After racing in the garden spot behind longshot pacesetter Duchess of Duke, Romantic Vision took command and drew clear for a two-length win over Martini Glass in the $500,000 Spinster to earn a fees-paid berth for the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) at Del Mar Nov. 3.
With plans to retire her for 2018 already discussed and her form coming together better than ever, Arnold and Humphrey wanted to get aggressive with the bay mare before the clock ran out on her racing days. Not only did the Spinster give her the chance to run out of her home stall, the race came up particularly opportunistic, with Romantic Vision and the Brad Cox-trained Tiger Moth as the only graded stakes winners in the nine-horse field.
Arnold's trainee boasted the best recent form of the group, as she earned her first graded win in the Locust Grove Stakes (G3) at Churchill Sept. 16. Every piece of the puzzle was finally there for the mare, and she put it all together in stellar order under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. Sunday.
"She likes it here. She trains here, she's stabled here, and she's one of those fillies that just got good at age 5," Arnold said. "She's really healthy and she's matured. That's why (Humphrey) raced her as a 5-year-old and it paid off. Today it went really well."
Romantic Vision has always been in her comfort zone racing off the pace. With Duchess of Duke clicking along in :23.96 and :48.26 for a half-mile over the sealed, sloppy surface, Hernandez had his mount closer than normal, as she tracked four-wide in second with Martini Glass saving ground on the rail in third.
"Her first step was the quickest one away from there, and she put us in a great spot," Hernandez said. "She traveled really good for me the whole way. Going into the second turn, I was really confident in her. She's just really stepped up her last few races. She seems to be getting better and better."
It became go time for Romantic Vision as she approached the far turn, putting Duchess of Duke away and kicking mud in the face of her would-be challengers en route to covering the distance in 1:49.70.
In third came Blue Prize, who was followed by Lockdown and You Know Too to round out the top five. Bar of Gold, the 9-5 favorite, ended up sixth.
"She was perfect. She looked like at the half-mile she was going to make a nice move, but when I really asked she didn't give me that kick. I think the distance was a little bit too far," said Luis Saez, jockey of Bar of Gold.
Out of the Giant's Causeway mare Perfect for You, Romantic Vision has six wins from 19 starts with $610,086 in earnings. Humphrey didn't commit to a possible meeting with the likes of champion Stellar Wind in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and instead took the moment Sunday to enjoy the happy quandary his mare presented.
"Let's get her back to the barn, see how she is, and see how she is a week from now," Humphrey said. "We'll do what makes sense for her. We wanted to get through this one and then we'll decide what we'll do next."