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Dust and Diamonds gears up for Pletcher debut; Romacaca ready for South Beach

Dust and Diamonds, a $900,000 purchase by Stud TNT at Fasig-Tipton, could return in the Sugar Swirl (Ross Woodson/Horsephotos.com)
Trainer Todd Pletcher has two of the most accomplished filly and mare sprinters nominated for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes going six furlongs at Gulfstream Park, and both turned in half-mile workouts at Palm Meadows Sunday morning.

Dust and Diamonds was timed in an easy :52 in advance of her debut for new connections, while Turbulent Descent drilled in a bullet :47, tying for the fastest of 23 moves at the distance on the fast main track. Both four-year-olds are kept on edge for their first start since the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on November 3.

Formerly trained by Steve Asmussen, Dust and Diamonds ran a big race to finish second behind probable Eclipse champion Groupie Doll in the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint. In her prior start, the daughter of Vindication posted a sharp score in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park on September 22.

Dust and Diamonds later sold for $900,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November, just a couple of days following the Breeders' Cup. She will now sport the colors of Stud TNT, which transferred her to Pletcher. Her first work for the barn was a :48 3/5 half-mile breeze at Palm Meadows last Sunday.

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Turbulent Descent didn't fire her best shot in the Breeders' Cup, checking in a well-beaten seventh after finishing fourth behind Dust and Diamonds in the Gallant Bloom. However, the Florida-bred daughter of Congrats is obviously capable of better as the winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga in August and the Grade 1 Test Stakes there the summer before for previous connections.

At Gulfstream Park, Frank Calabrese's Romacaca breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 ahead of next Sunday's $100,000 South Beach Stakes. Jockey Francisco Torres was in the saddle for the work over a track rated good.

"She didn't go all that fast, but the track was a little heavy and the 'dogs' were up," trainer Danny Miller said. "But 'Cisco' said she's never breezed any better for him."

Romacaca was retained by Frank Calabrese after RNA'ing for $245,000 at Fasig-Tipton (Four Footed Fotos)
A Florida-bred daughter of Running Stag who has earned $866,992, Romacaca made the first four starts of her career at Gulfstream Park early in 2009, and is on target to make her 32nd trip to the post. The six-year-old mare comes off a wire-to-wire victory by 1 3/4 lengths in the October 6 Indian Maid Handicap at Hawthorne, and looms as the possible favorite in the South Beach, a 7 1/2-furlong turf test. 

Torres has ridden Romacaca in her last three starts in Chicago, winning the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap and finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park in July and August prior to the Indian Maid.

Romacaca currently represents a one-horse stable for Miller, one of several horsemen at Gulfstream this winter who has horses trapped at Hawthorne currently because of the equine herpes virus outbreak first detected not long after the Indian Maid.

"I've got 12 horses still up there -- five of them that I was going to bring here," Miller said. "We don't know when they might get out. Romacaca was consigned to the Fasig-Tipton (November) sales but didn't meet her reserve (when bidding stopped at $245,000) and came back to me. She missed a couple of weeks of training, but that won't be a problem. She's ready."

Romacaca is in Miller's care for the second time in her career.

"I got her after she was claimed here (for $25,000 on April 17, 2009)," Miller said. "She won her next three starts off the claim at Arlington Park, an allowance and two minor stakes races before a game runner-up effort in the (Grade 3) Pucker Up Stakes.

"I got her back at Arlington this summer and she won the Modesty," he added. "She ran a good race in the Beverly D (beaten five lengths for it all) but that was a tougher spot and she was pressed all the way on the lead (by Irish invader Up). She's matured as she's gotten older and learned to relax in her races. She went a mile-and-three-sixteenths winning the Modesty, so I don't think it was just the distance in the Beverly D."

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