MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (June 27, 2008) - Jockey Ariel Smith has had a solid meet at Calder Race Course over the last two months, ranking in the top five during most of that time, and had his biggest day of the session Thursday riding four winners on the nine-race program to move into third in the standings with 31 victories after 38 days.
Smith, 25, was born in Hialeah but began his riding career in California before moving on to New York where he was leading apprentice in 1999 during a campaign climaxed by Eclipse Award honors. He finished seventh in the Calder standings last year behind Elvis Trujillo. His father Alfredo Smith, Jr. was a popular rider on the South Florida circuit for many years and still ranks 19th on the all-time Calder meet list for winners with 487.
Trainer Kirk Ziadie continues atop the leader board as he defends his Calder meet title from last year with 16 victories with a trio of veterans three back in a tie for third at 13 apiece -- Eddie Plesa, Jr., Marty Wolfson and Dan Hurtak. Ziadie will have plenty of chances to extend his lead this weekend with contenders entered in six races on Friday and four on Saturday.
Calder Juvenile Program Ramping Up
Two-year-old racing has been a defining element of the Calder racing program throughout the 37-year history of the track and the 2008 juvenile season here hits high gear on Saturday with nearly 40 colts and fillies entered in four maiden special events on Saturday’s 13-race program, including first-time starters by Awesome Again, Meadowlake, Trippi, Repent, Speightstown and Sweetsouthernasaint.
Two of the most impressive 2-year-olds unveiled so far at the meet were J. Robert Harris, Jr. Bee Cee Cee, who has won both of his starts for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr.; and Moscow Nights’ Meshuga, impressive debut winner of his only start for trainer Richard Root.
Bee Cee Cee is a Songandaprayer colt purchased for $200,000 at the OBS February 2-year-old sales and won his debut on Apr. 26 by 3 ¾ lengths. The Florida-bred came back to win the $36,000 BL’s Sweep overnight stakes by four lengths on June 15.
Bee Cee Cee is eligible for the track’s rich Florida Stallion Stakes program which gets underway with the first round of the $100,000 Dr. Fager and $100,000 Desert Vixen Divisions scheduled for Sat., Aug. 16. Plesa also sent out Padua Stable’s homebred gelding Ideal Exchange to finish second in the BL’s Sweep and the son of Exchange Rate also is eligible for the FSS series
Meshuga is a roan/gray colt by Macho Uno purchased for $80,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales and he too is eligible for the Stallion Stakes series. He breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:03 3/5 on Friday morning and could be seen next in the $36,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes to be run at six furlongs on ‘Summit of Speed’ day, Sat., July 12. Two-year-old fillies will have their chance that afternoon in the $36,000 Jj’s Dream Stakes.
Ancient Culture Finding Home on Main Track?
Warehouse Investments’ 4-year-old colt Ancient Culture was bred in England by Juddmonte Farms and the son of world champion sire Sadler’s Wells out of Irish Oaks (G1) winner Wemyss Bight, by Dancing Brave won one of eight starts there last year for trainer Michael Stoute, all on turf.
Ancient Culture re-surfaced early this year at Gulfstream Park with Manny Azpurua as trainer and failed to hit the board in three allowance outings on grass, off slowly each time. In three starts since then on the main track at Calder, Ancient Culture has improved each time from a fifth-place finish on May 4 to a runner-up effort on May 26 to a very impressive 2 ¾ lengths victory going 1 1/16 miles on June 13.
Royally bred for turf, Ancient Culture may yet find his best on dirt and gets another test Sunday in a ‘two other than’ optional event with Javier Santiago getting the call in the one mile and 70 yards race, facing six rival 3-year-olds and up.
The Posse’s 4-year-old gelding Arrow’s Flight and Dennis Punches’ 5-year-old gelding Minidrop finished one-two last out in a one-mile starter allowance on May 23 and meet again in the Sunday feature with jockeys Ray Fuentes and Manoel Cruz aboard, respectively, for trainers Bill White and Dan Hurtak.
Completing the field are Irv Treusch’s A Fleet Prospector, Daniel Coa; Sabine Stable’s Victory Café, Juan Leyva; Alan Benson’s Gregory, Manny Aguilar; and New Life Stable’s Shucks, Carlos Olivero.