Saturday, December 12, 2009

Calder Barn Notes: 12-11-09

Presious Passion on Target for W.L. McKnight ‘Three-Peat’ Bid

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (Dec. 11, 2009) – Patricia Generazio’s remarkable 6-year-old gelding Presious Passion has arrived in South Florida for the winter season from New Jersey and is being pointed for a chance to win the $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder Casino & Race Course on Sat., Dec. 26 for a third consecutive year, according to trainer Mary Hartmann.

“We just got out in time before the bad weather hit up there and he’s absolutely on schedule for the race,” said Hartmann Friday morning from Gulfstream Park. “He’s doing just fine and will breeze here within the next few days.”

Presious Passion won the 2007 edition of the 12-furlong W.L. McKnight as a 67-to-1 longshot and again last December at odds of 7-to-1. The Florida-bred chestnut son of Royal Anthem has emerged as one of America’s leading turf marathon runners and ran the race of his life last out to finish second in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 before a world-wide audience.

Presious Passion opened up a 10-length lead at one point early in the 12-furlong Turf under regular jockey Elvis Trujillo and gave way grudgingly in the final yards to lose a half-length decision to defending Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Conduit. Presious Passion also has won the last two renewals of the United Nations Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.

The 38th running of the W.L. McKnight Handicap will be one of three Graded stakes to be run here on Dec. 26 and nominations to all three events close on Saturday. The other two are the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Kenny Noe, Jr. Handicap (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.

Trilogy Stable’s Yesbyjimminy and Edmund Gann’s It’s a Bird finished one-two in last year’s running of the Kenny Noe, Jr. and the Stage Door Betty has been returned to the schedule after a one-year hiatus. The 2007 edition was won by Jacks or Better Farm’s Bayou’s Lassie.

Thursday Triple Leaves Cruz One Back of Coa

Jockey Manoel Cruz won three of the eight races on Thursday’s card at Calder Casino & Race Course to draw within one victory of Eibar Coa atop the leader board at 44-43 for the Tropical Meet after 31 days of the session that runs through Sat., Jan. 2.

Cruz is bidding for a third straight Tropical Meet championship and fourth overall while Coa, a three-time Tropical titlist from 1996-98, arrived from New York earlier than usual for the fall/winter South Florida season. Still a threat to the veterans in the standings is 17-year-old apprentice Luis Saez within striking distance third with 40 tallies.

The Tropical title chase among trainers also is very competitive with five horsemen within three victories at the top led by Marty Wolfson with 12, one more than Henry Collazo second at 11 and Kathleen O’Connell third with 10. Bill White and Steve Dwoskin are tied for fourth with nine wins apiece.

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