Stonewall Star bounces back in Biogio’s Rose

Sunday, March 24th, 2024

Stonewall Star, sixth in back-to-back starts in open allowance-optional races, returns to winner’s circle in Sunday’s Biogio’s Rose Stakes. NYRA Photo.

Horacio De Paz looked for answers when multiple stakes winner Stonewall Star turned in atypical performances in her three starts last fall and this winter since returning from a more than seven-month break.

He made a few changes with Barry Schwartz’s homebred daughter of Flatter, namely taking off blinkers for her morning breezes leading up to Sunday’s $97,000 Biogio’s Rose at Aqueduct. De Paz also took them off for the 1-mile stakes originally carded for Saturday but pushed a day later when New York Racing Association officials shifted the slate to avoid wet weather that blasted the region Friday and Saturday.

Stonewall Star, running without those familiar black blinkers she’d been decked out with in all 11 of her starts, returned to the form that landed her four victories in her first seven starts with a victory over Bustin Bay in the Biogio’s Rose. Ridden by Isaac Castillo, Stonewall Star won by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:36.51 for the mile on the track labeled fast.

“We worked her in her second work back (March 9) and took the blinkers off and she was on the inside – she galloped out really well,” De Paz said. “I figured stretching out would make the pace a little bit easier and it would be a good idea to take them off. She’s a sharp filly and a happy type of filly.”

Stonewall Star raced close to the early pace set by Security Code with 6-5 favorite Venti Valentine to her outside. That trio raced as a team through the opening quarter-mile in :24.35.

Security Code, winner of the Broadway Stakes by a neck last time out over Venti Valentine, still led 9-2 fourth choice Stonewall Star by a tenuous head through the half in :47.61. Stonewall Star put her head in front midway around the far turn and led Security Code by a head past the quarter-pole and 6 furlongs in 1:11.95.

Castillo let Stonewall Star out in the lane and she opened up a 1 1/2-length lead in midstretch as Security Code and Venti Valentine backed up. Bustin Bay, coming back after winning an open-company allowance-optional March 14 for trainer Linda Rice, made a run from fourth in the lane to land the runner-up spot. Venti Valentine finished third with Security Code fourth and Sweetest Princess fifth.

“She’s really kind,” Castillo said. “The trainer did a very good job to get the filly to relax before the race. I know the [other] horses were coming, but she feels so comfortable up there. When I asked her, she still had so much left.”

De Paz was pleased with the decision to remove the blinkers and also race Stonewall Star in the state-bred ranks for the first time since winning the Franklin Square Stakes last January at Aqueduct. The Biogio’s Rose also marked the first time Stonewall Star raced at the 1-mile trip.

“She was always a talented filly, we just had trouble bringing her back to form,” De Paz said. “Just letting the pace be a little easier back in New York-bred company [helped] and I figured she could stretch out. She handled 7 [furlongs] just fine, especially at Laurel and when we tried Keeneland [third in the Grade 3 Beaumont last year]. Isaac rode a great race, controlled, and just let her be where she was comfortable and not rush her. I’m very happy for her to come back.”

Bred and foaled at Schwartz’s Stonewall Farm in Granite Springs, Stonewall Star improved to 5-for-12 with a second and four thirds in the Biogio’s Rose. A stakes winner at 2 and 3 and an earner of $353,198, Stonewall Star is the fourth foal and one of three stakes winners out of the Proud Citizen mare Jonata.

Whatlovelookslike, a 5-year-old daughter of English Channel and finalist for champion New York-bred turf female honors in 2023, sports a record of 5-3-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $416,350 for Schwartz and trainer Todd Pletcher. Whatlovelookslike won last year’s Port Washington Stakes at Belmont Park and finished third in the John Hettinger Stakes during the Belmont at the Big A meeting.

La Fuerza, a now 8-year-old full brother to Stonewall Star, won three stakes carrying his owner and breeder’s black and white colors in 2018. He won four of eight and earned $261,610. Jonata is also the dam of New York-bred winner Citizen K, a gelding by Mizzen Mast with a record of 3-2-2 in 18 starts and a bankroll of $185,212.

A $100,000 purchase by Schwartz at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, Jonata won two of 17 starts with five placings and $140,800.

Leave a Reply