Owner/breeder: Eugene Melnyk (ON).
Trainer: Mark Casse.
She won on turf and Polytrack while competing almost exclusively in graded events – and yet, it hasn’t always been so easy for the bay daughter of Indian Charlie-Harts Gap, by Saint Ballado.
“As a yearling, she was non-descript. She wasn’t one of those horses early on that made you say, “wow”,” recalls Phil Hronec, manager of Melnyk’s Ocala-based Winding Oaks Farm where many of Melnyk’s champions took their first steps on the path to becoming a racehorse.
“She did everything she was asked and she was a very smart filly, I did like that part about of her,” says Hronec. “However, the further she went along, maturity-wise and in her mind as to what she was out there to do, the better she got.”
Hronec sent Roxy Gap up to Woodbine as a two-year-old, and into the care of trainer Mark Casse, with the expectation that the filly might take some time to come around.
“Thing is, after he had her a few weeks she started blossoming and doing things right and I started getting notes from Mark saying, ‘I think we have a runner here,’” grins Hronec.
The betting public weren’t expecting much either, at first, letting Roxy Gap go off at odds of 12-1 in her unveiling on July 3, 2010 – which she promptly won by 6 _-lengths.
“That shocked me as I thought she was the kind that might take a little bit to come around,” says Hronec.
Roxy Gap completed her juvenile campaign undefeated through three starts and returned the following season, as a sophomore, with high expectations, instead, finding the winner’s circle only once in just four starts.
“Her Beyer numbers were good compared to other three-year-old fillies in the country,” says Hronec. “But as a three-year-old, she wasn’t a sound filly. She developed some foot problems.”
Roxy Gap turned a corner over the coming winter at Winding Oaks and as the calendar flipped into 2012, Hronec noticed a spark in the formerly laid back miss.
“I told Mark, ‘She’s really the real thing now. She knows what’s going on, she’s relaxed, and training great,’” recalls Hronec. “And then she went out and had a great year. She made half a million. And she’s not a big robust filly but she ran some terrific races.”
Her 2012 Woodbine debut culminated in a gutsy win in the Grade III Whimsical, quickly followed up with a runaway effort to take the Grade II Hendrie.
With a pair of ‘Poly’ stakes under her belt, Roxy Gap then put in what Hronec feels was the filly’s best performance of the year, a hard-fought second place run going a mile on the turf in the Grade II Nassau against Eclipse Award-nominated Marketing Mix.
“I don’t know if she really wants to go a mile on soft going,” starts Hronec. “Six to seven furlongs is her best distance, but she showed a lot of gumption that day, ran her butt off and though it was a second it was a very good race. After that race, I thought she could be the best filly in Canada.”
Following a second-place performance in the Sweet Briar Too, Roxy Gap sprinted to victory over the E.P Taylor Turf Course in the Grade III Royal North besting champion filly Atlantic Hurricane.
Roxy Gap was part of a Melnyk dispersal sale in February 2013, sold for $850,000 to Fred Hertrich but then was bought back soon after by Melnyk in a private deal. She is expected to race again in 2013.
Hronec is proud of what the filly has become, even if his initial assessment missed its mark.
“That’s what good about this business. There’s no science to it,” laughs Hronec. “I’ve had so many horses fool me. When you pick up the Daily Racing Form and read a story where someone says, ‘I liked him from the beginning and knew he was going to be a star…’ well, I’d say about 40 per cent of that is ‘BS’ and 60 per cent is what really happened.”
And in 2012, becoming a champion filly really happened to the gritty Roxy Gap.