12/01/2007 2:03PM

Calder Time


Back in the day when I would winter in Florida, when that was the only way to watch and wager on Gulfstream and Hialeah, I chose Dec. 1 as the somewhat arbitrary starting point for making my own speed figures from the Tropical-at-Calder meeting. That way I'd have a roughly a month of last-out figs on the locals when the prime season started just after Jan. 1.

So I had a flash of deja vu this Dec. 1 morning as I opened a card of racing from Calder for the first time in a long while. The racing is starting to pick up there with the arrival of the northern grass horses, who are major players in two Calder stakes that comprise two-thirds of today's graded-stakes action around the country.

(Note to NY bettors: NYRA keeps running a graphic on its simulcast signal listing 11 tracks as being bettable today and not mentioning either Calder or Hollywood, but both, and a total of 19 tracks, are in fact available.)

3:28 pm EST, Calder race 8, G3 $100k My Charmer H., 3+F, 1 1/8-T
J'Ray and Bayou's Lassie are the only previous G3 winners, but their seven opponents (after the scratches of Ms. Lydonia and Gadolinium) are all stakes-winners and 6 of the 9 entrants have run a Beyer of 96 or better on the grass, the winning target at this level. Bayou's Lassie and Beautiful Danielle should compromise each other's chances on the lead and ensure an honest pace, perhaps setting things up nicely for Fantastic Shirl, a half-sister to Shakespeare who had an impossible set-up in the Athenia last time out: 10 lengths behind a half in 51, she had no chance to make a late impact against the streaking Criminologist. J'Ray, who has run well at Calder before and is rounding back into top form, and La Dolce Vita, who has been running in stronger fields than this one, appear to be the other top contenders. Redaspen is good enough but comes off a five-month layoff and a barn change.

4:48 pm EST, Calder race 11, G3 $100k Tropical Turf H., 3+, 1 1/8m-T
Host is a standout in a field of 10 (scratch Fishy Advice, Touched by Madness, and all the a-e's.) He switches from Pletcher to Albertrani (as a number of Melnyk horses, including Pool Land, have recently), and while he's never the most dependable proposition in the world, he has been running against significantly better than these this year, facing Kip DeVille and Shakespeare in recent G1 outings. I'll also use Go Between in the all-stakes Calder pick four. The 4-year-old has shown signs of returning to the form that won him the Palm Beach and Virginia Derby last year and could be on the verge of blossoming further.

7:07 pm EST, Hollywood race 8, G2 $150k Bayakoa H., 3+F, 1 1/8m
G1 winners Romance is Diane, Sugar Shake and Tough Tiz's Sis meet three overmatched rivals who have yet to win beyond the N2x level, and the top three all figure to go off in the 2-1 range. Sugar Shake's last-out victory in the Turnback the Alarm is less impressive than it looks on paper because her principal rival that day, Altesse, was pulled up after an equipment mishap. Romance is Diane improved her lifetime-best Beyer from an 85 to a 99 last time out but she was loose on the lead against Cal-breds that day. So I'll go with Tough Tiz's Sis, who couldn't handle the slop in the BC DIstaff but was very good running down Hystericalady to win the Lady's Secret in her previous start.

AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
Nice photo, that is an Alexander Calder sculpture of the horse??
Stewart More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve: Greatly enjoy your blog. Your comments about Calder and Gulfstream got me wondering why noone seems to be writing about the obvious impact of the purse cuts for the upcoming Gulfstream meet due to poor slots revenues which are well below projections), and the top NY, KY and SoCal trainers who have now decided to reduce their GP contingent and/or go elsewhere for the Winter. Bill Mott shipped 25+ to the Fair Grounds for the 1st time in over 20 years, Pletcher increased his SoCal and Aqueduct barms this year, Clement has shipped a number of his grass horses to SoCal for the entire Winter, Frankel and Casse have strings at FG for the 1st time and several KY trainers are going to FG and/or OP rather than the Gulf. It is my feeling that the purse cut, especially after last year's increases were the first in many years, will have a noticeable, adverse impact on the quality and filed size at the upcoming GP meet,as more trainers send their horses to places like FG and OP with better purses due to slots revenue. What do you think about this?
rfb0318 More than 1 year ago
Ringleader Johnny V. is at it again!! From the DRF " Velazquez and Channing Hill both refused to ride the turf course Saturday, saying they felt uncomfortable on it. Velazquez took off both of his scheduled mounts on the turf - one of which won - while Hill took off his mount in the fifth after riding the opener. El Prado Rob, Hill's mount in the fifth, was ultimately scratched." Johnny V. has cost racetracks lots of money with his moaning and groaning leading to track cancellations. More money than probably needed to fund insurance policies and/or Jockey Guild mismanagement. They name streets after guys like Johnny V.--ONE WAY!!
jim More than 1 year ago
too early for this weather.
jrzingg More than 1 year ago
Read your colume on the Arkansas Derby, I agree with you. but why is there a graded stakes system anyway. Anyone that knows horse racing knows witch races are good and witch are so-so. Breeders know witch races are importent, so why do we need Grades on them?????
aparagon4u More than 1 year ago
A few questions: 1. Will the Beyer Pars ever be included in the PP's? 2. Why are the Beyer Pars on Simulcast Daily incomplete? There are no pars for two year olds, statebreds or many claiming levels. 3. The trainer stats are great, have you ever considered similarly detailed stats for jockeys and owners? 4. Why are online PP's so expensive? I can buy a print copy of the form, get anywhere from 5-10 tracks depending on the day and have access to all the articles for $5.50. Individual PP's online are $2.50, monthly plans reduce the cost per track a little better but not even close to the cost per track of the print copy. Online distribution should be much cheaper then print copies because there are no shipping or printing costs. Thanks in advance for your response. Lenny
Christine Race More than 1 year ago
Not sure a whole lot of people are signed up on board for the winter actively which leads to the good stuff as we go forward...but I will be.
Justin Z More than 1 year ago
Hey anybody knows where I can safely bet horses online? So far the online decent site I have found is [redacted].com, so far they have paid off well any other suggestions?
Clinton More than 1 year ago
NY Breds get a lot of ridicule but it seems that whenever one excels on the turf, they can hold their own in open company. Perhaps due to her recent subpar performances in statebred company recently, J'Ray was allowed to go off at 7/2 today and I was shocked. Believe it or not, the turf division for both male & female NY Breds is filled with consistent performers and while they lack the "standout" you'd be hard pressed to find a more honest group of runners. That exacta saved my bacon today but missed that tri when Fantastic Shirl gets beat. Oh well Sunday is another day.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Steve-do you feel, as I do, that the quality of racing at Gulfstream Park over the past few years has declined. If you had to pick, would you say that perhaps Santa Anita's winter meet is superior? And if you had to choose, what one meet would you attend each year? Thanks for the blog.