Southern California-based Ce Ce ventured all the way to Florida to stamp her ticket to the Nov. 6 GI Breeders' Cup F/M Sprint back at Del Mar. A winner of both the GI Beholder Mile and GI Apple Blossom H. last term, the homebred went winless for the rest of the season, including when fifth in the GI Breeders' Cup Distaff Nov. 7. She cut back and gained some confidence with an Apr. 17 optional claiming win going this distance at Santa Anita, but could only manage fourth–again around two turns–in that venue's GII Santa Maria S. May 22.
Unhurried in midpack between rivals early, the chestnut split foes to make a move inside of slow-starting favorite Estilo Talentoso as they stacked up four across the track. Ce Ce leveled off well after switching leads, and cruised away convincingly from there.
“She's pretty impressive. She loves this track, it's a little different than what she's been running at,” winning rider Victor Espinoza said. “Today, she ran her race. They were rolling, the ones in front of me. I know they're going to get tired turning for home, so I just gave her enough time to split the horses.”
Trainer Michael McCarthy has had past success shipping to Gulfstream–he took the 2019 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. with City of Light (Quality Road), and was third in that event this year with Independence Hall (Constitution).
“I thought we were in a good spot,” McCarthy said from Los Alamitos. “I was hoping to have a bit of a target to run at. I told Victor not to get in a hurry and not rush her out of there and ride her where she was comfortable. We were hoping for a nice stalking trip, and that we did. Around the turn it looked like we had plenty of run. It was just a matter of trying to get outside and finding our best stride, and we did that today.”
He continued, “I thought she was overlooked last year. She won two Grade I races back-to-back. After that we just couldn't find a track that was suitable for her. She was running on tracks in California that were a little bit deep and a little bit loose. She wants one that is a bit firmer and faster, and we found that today.”
McCarthy said he'd map out a plan for his charge after getting her back to California and seeing how she exits Saturday's effort.
Saturday, Gulfstream Park
PRINCESS ROONEY INVITATIONAL S.-GII, $350,000, Gulfstream, 7-3, 3yo/up, f/m, 7f, 1:21.94, ft.
1–CE CE, 126, m, 5, by Elusive Quality
1st Dam: Miss Houdini (GISW, $187,600), by Belong to Me
2nd Dam: Magical Maiden, by Lord Avie
3rd Dam: Gils Magic, by Magesterial
O/B-Bo Hirsch LLC (KY); T-Michael W. McCarthy; J-Victor
Espinoza. $197,000. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 13-6-1-2,
$1,113,100. *1/2 to Papa Clem (Smart Strike), MGSW & GISP,
$1,121,190. Werk Nick Rating: C+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Estilo Talentoso, 122, f, 4, Maclean's Music–Bazinga Baby, by
Afleet Alex. ($77,000 Ylg '18 FTKOCT; $95,000 RNA 2yo '19
OBSAPR; $15,000 2yo '19 OBSOPN). O-Medallion Racing, Barry
Fowler, Parkland Thoroughbreds, Little Red Feather Racing &
BlackRidge Stables LLC; B-Mile High Bloodstock LLC (KY);
T-Juan Arriagada. $64,000.
3–Sound Machine, 120, f, 4, Into Mischief–Ava Pie, by Distorted
Humor. ($500,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-e Five Racing
Thoroughbreds; B-Farm III Enterprises (FL); T-Saffie A. Joseph,
Margins: 3 1/4, HD, 3HF. Odds: 2.70, 1.20, 22.10.
Also Ran: Hallawallah, Pacific Gale, Laura's Light, Heiressall, Thissmytime. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
Ce Ce is one of 56 graded winners for the late Elusive Quality, and one of 28 graded winners (seven Grade I) for Belong to Me as a broodmare sire. She is one of three highest-level winners by sons of Gone West out of Belong to Me mares–the other two, Jersey Town and Mozu Superflare, are both by Speightstown.
Ce Ce's dam Miss Houdini was also a Bo Hirsch homebred, and annexed the 2002 GI Del Mar Debutante before later producing GII Arkansas Derby and GII San Fernando S. winner Papa Clem. Her 2-year-old colt now named Native Thunder (American Pharoah) was a $200,000 KEESEP buy by Lazy F Ranch. Miss Houdini was subsequently barren to Street Sense and last visited Midnight Lute, though a 2021 foal has not yet been registered.
Second dam Magical Maiden was just a $26,000 2-year-old purchase by Hirsch's father Clement and would go on to take a pair of Grade I races and earn more than $900,000 before being sold for $400,000.