Twitter icon
Facebook icon

Princess Rooney

1995.2.1990 Princess Rooney_Bredders' Cup Photo.jpg

Princess Rooney (NMR Collection)
Princess Rooney
Induction Year: 
Dr. Ben Roach and Tom Roach II
Paula Tucker
Frank Gomez; Neil D. Drysdale
Parrish Princess
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


Described by trainer Neil Drysdale as a “big, strong, plain Amazon of a gray mare,” Princess Rooney was a model of consistent excellence throughout her career, finishing off the board only once in 21 starts. She won an Eclipse Award and eight graded races, including six Grade 1 events.


Purchased for $38,000 by Jim and Paula Tucker at the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in Kentucky in 1981, Princess Rooney was daughter of Verbatim out of the Drone mare Parrish Princess. Originally trained by Frank Gomez, Princess Rooney began her career at Calder in Florida, winning her first four races by a combines 37 lengths.


In her first significant test, Princess Rooney defeated a pair of solid fillies, Winning Tack and Weekend Surprise, by eight lengths in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont. Two weeks later, Princess Rooney romped by 11 lengths in the Grade 2 Gardenia Stakes at the Meadowlands. However, she suffered a quarter crack in her right front foot in the race and had to be put away for the season. Although undefeated in six starts, Princess Rooney was beaten out for the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Filly by Landaluce, winner of all five of her starts on the West Coast prior to contracting a bacterial infection and dying in November of 1982.


After beginning her 3-year-old campaign with consecutive allowance victories, Princess Rooney dominated the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland by 9½ lengths and then won the Kentucky Oaks to run her record to a perfect 10-for-10.


Princess Rooney was not as dominant as expected in her Kentucky Oaks victory and seemed off in her subsequent start in the Acorn Stakes. Tasting defeat for the first time as she finished second to Ski Goggle, it was discovered following the race that Princess Rooney had a stress fracture of the left knee. She was sent to her birthplace, Parrish Hill Farm in Kentucky, to rest and heal.


Returning in December of 1983, Princess Rooney won an allowance race to close out the year before making her 4-year-old debut at Hialeah on the turf in the Bel Harbor Stakes. The grass did not suit Princess Rooney well, as she finished fourth, the lone time in her career she was out of the money.


The Tuckers then decided Princess Rooney needed a change of venue and took aim at the California races. Gomez had no desire to pick up and leave his stable in Florida, so Princess Rooney was transferred to Drysdale.


Princess Rooney won her first start for Drysdale in the Susan’s Girl Stakes. She then finished third in the Hawthorne Handicap and second in the Milady Handicap, each won by Adored. Princess Rooney seemed more fit when she returned in the Vanity Handicap. A few strides from the wire, Princess Rooney dug in and slipped past Adored for the win. Her time of 1:46⅕ for the mile was ⅖ of a second off Spectacular Bid’s track record.


Following the Vanity win, Princess Rooney won the Chula Vista Handicap, an allowance race and the Spinster Stakes before contesting the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Hollywood Park. In the best form of her career, Princess Rooney delivered her best effort, winning by seven lengths against a talented group that included Adored, Life’s Magic and Miss Oceana.   


Princess Rooney was an easy selection for the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Female. The Breeders’ Cup Distaff was the final race in a career that produced a record of 17-2-1 from 21 starts and earnings of $1,343,339. Princess Rooney was sold to George Aubin for $5.5 million, at the time the third-highest price ever paid for a broodmare.


Princess Rooney died at Gentry Brothers Farm near Lexington, Ly., on Oct. 7, 2008 at the age of 28.