Coach Rocks raced down the center of the stretch on Saturday to take her stakes debut in the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) by 1 1/2 lengths.
Jockey Luis Saez settled Coach Rocks in midpack on the inside as Take Charge Paula ranged up to take command of the race after a first quarter of :23.47 set by Eight Thirtyone. Getting the half in :47.27, Take Charge Paula and Alter Moon to her outside drew away from the field nearing the final turn. Alter Moon took over and drew off entering the bend, but Take Charge Paula suddenly re-rallied to her outside and found herself leading the way into the stretch while wide.
Coach Rocks, meanwhile, angled off the inside and into the two path. The Dale Romans trainee found herself widest of all on the bend but easily ran down near 5-2 favorite Take Charge Paula for the 1 1/2-length victory.
Coach Rocks completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.63 over Gulfstream Park’s fast dirt, and paid $7.60 as the 5-2 second choice for taking her stakes debut. She also earned 100 points toward a spot in the starting gate of the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs, as the Gulfstream Park Oaks is worth 100-40-20-10 points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of contests.
Take Charge Paula finished 10 lengths up on Princess Warrior, who in turn had 3 1/2 lengths to spare over Tell Your Mama, who is still a maiden after making her ninth career start in this spot. Alter Moon came next and was followed under the wire by Blonde Bomber, Cache, Silver Bay, Mihrab, Daisy and Eight Thirtyone.
Campaigned by Roddy J. Valente, RAP Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds, Coach Rocks is now 2-3-1 from eight career starts having banked $225,682 lifetime. She took seven tries to break her maiden, finally getting the job done last out on February 14 in gate-to-wire fashion by eight lengths under Saez. The bay daughter of Oxbow switched back and forth between the main track and turf in her quest for that initial victory, but the win itself came going 1 1/16 miles on Gulfstream’s dirt.
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Coach Rocks is out of the Grade 3-placed, stakes-winning El Prado mare Mexican Moonlight, who has also produced dual Grade 3 runner-up O’Prado Ole. Farther back, Coach Rocks’ fifth dam is German champion Night Music, and this female family includes German Group 1 winners, highweights and champions.
GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS QUOTES
Luis Saez, jockey Coach Rocks, winner
“What a rough trip. My plan was to break and be right up front, first or second, but there was a lot of speed in the race. Thankfully when we got to the three-eighths pole, it got clear and she took off. When we came to the stretch I thought the horse to beat was going to go, but my filly kicked fine and thank God we passed them.”
Dale Romans, trainer Coach Rocks, winner
“She figured the game out. I never expected her to lose. Every time I’ve brought her over, I thought she would win. It took time for her to figure it out that she is as good as she is. When she swung out wide and finding her rhythm, I thought she would grind them down. I know she’s fit and distance wasn’t an issue.”