M375 Thoroughbreds and Suarez Racing’s 3-year-old Golden Spikes, trained by Marty Wolfson, was the only winner of one of the ‘Big Four’ events, capturing the $250,000 Carry Back Stakes (G2), but the Calder horsemen also came back with three runner-up performances, a third and two fourth-place finishes.
IEAH Stables’ Benny the Bull was a deserving two-length winner of the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (G2) for New York trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr., but was followed at the wire by Brian Prichard’s How’s Your Halo second at 50-to-1 for his owner-trainer and Live Oak Plantation’s Rockerfeller third for trainer Marty Wolfson.
J. Paul Reddam’s 4-year-old filly Mistical Plan drew off to a 5 ¾ lengths victory in the $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap (G1) for California trainer Doug O’Neill, leading a 1-2-3 finish for shippers in the race. Wolfson sent out Miklin Stable’s 5-year-old mare Dixie Dreamer to check in fourth, the best of three Calder-based contenders in the seven-horse field.
David and Jill Heerensperger’s 3-year-old filly Indyanne remained undefeated in four career starts for Northern California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist winning the $250,000 Azalea Stakes (G3) by 9 ½ lengths as the 3-to-5 favorite. Calder-based trainer Joe Calascibetta sent out Harold Plumley’s Dubai Majesty to finish second at odds of better than 12-to-1.
With the strong contingent of horses shipping in for ‘Summit’ day, eight prominent jockeys flew in for mounts in the rich races, winning all four of the major events. Hall of Famer Russell Baze was atop Indyanne and Benny the Bull was ridden by Edgar Prado, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month at Saratoga. Corey Nakatani was in from California to guide Mistical Plan and Elvis Trujillo came in from Monmouth Park to ride Golden Spikes.
Cruz Leads Standings Despite Missing Weekend Action
Notably missing from the jockeys’ room on ‘Summit’ day Saturday at Calder Race Course was veteran jockey Manoel Cruz, the leading rider going into Sunday’s 50th day of the meet with 57 victories, eight more than apprentice Paco Lopez second with 49 winners. Cruz was serving a three-day suspension Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but gets back up with mounts on Monday’s program.
Lopez only returned to action on Friday after serving some two weeks of suspension days accumulated, winning two races that afternoon, but was shut out on Saturday. Javier Santiago ranks third with 47 with Eduardo Nunez fourth at 38, including both halves of the early Daily Double on Saturday.
Kirk Ziadie continues to lead the trainers as he defends his 2007 Calder Meet title with 23 winners with Eddie Plesa, Jr. six back in second with 17 and Dan Hurtak and Marty Wolfson tied for third with 16 tallies apiece.
Soldier’s Dancer Works Toward Return to Competition
Herman Heinlein’s 4-year-old gelding Soldier’s Dancer is among the ranking leaders among the older turf runners in residence at Calder Race Course this summer and appears to be getting ready to resume a promising career for veteran trainer Dave Vivian after breezing a half-mile in 49 1/5 Saturday morning.
A roan/gray son of Lost Soldier, Soldier’s Dancer scored his biggest career victory winning the $200,000 Calder Derby (G3) last fall by six lengths when it was run on the ‘Festival of the Sun’ program in mid-October. Runner-up to Presious Passion in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park in late January, Soldier’s Dancer hasn’t run since capturing the Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs on Apr. 5.
Also notable on the busy Calder work tab Saturday morning were Earl Silver and Michael Eiserman’s 3-year-old colt He’s Eze and Farnsworth Stable’s 3-year-old filly Awesome Alexander, also posting half-mile drills.
He’s Eze earned the ‘bullet’ as he was clocked in 47 1/5, fastest of 60 horses timed at the distance. Trained by Terry Oliver, the son of Silver Deputy won the Jack Price Juvenile on the Florida Million card here in November, but finished a disappointing 10th of 11 trying turf for the first time in the Calder Derby run this year on Apr. 26.
Awesome Alexandra went an easy 51 2/5 for trainer Marty Wolfson as she appears ready for a chance in a stakes in the near future. Wolfson claimed the daughter of Awesome Again for $25,000 at Gulfstream Park in February and she has won four of five starts since, the last three in a row here in starter/allowance competition by big margins.