05/14/2008 11:00PM

Blue Pepsi Lodge hard to fault on dirt


MIAMI - The old horses for courses angle may only serve to confuse rather than help handicappers looking to solve the riddle of Saturday's $36,000 Champali Stakes at Calder.

The field for the 5 1/2-furlong overnight stakes includes a trio of older horses - Blue Pepsi Lodge, Weigelia, and Yesbyjimminy - all of whom possess a distinct fondness for the local strip.

Blue Pepsi Lodge has posted 9 of his 12 victories, Weigelia 8 of his 13 tallies, and Yesbyjimminy all five of his wins at Calder. The three speedsters could use the Champali as a stepping-stone to the meet's marquee sprint race, the Grade 2 Smile Handicap on July 12.

Blue Pepsi Lodge had a five-race win streak snapped when he faded to the rear of the pack in the Turf Sprint Handicap on April 16. He rose to the top of the local sprint division here last fall with a series of victories that included an easy four-length decision in the Kaiser Stakes. Blue Pepsi Lodge also knocked off Tampa Bay Downs's sprint kingpin Lookinforthesescret in a statebred stakes on April 5.

Weigelia, 7, also finished far back in the Turf Sprint Handicap and should relish the return to a main course over which he has registered the two most important victories of his career, the Grade 3 Carry Back at 3 in 2004 and the Grade 3 Kenny Noe Jr. during the fall of 2006. Weigelia has been winless in six starts since capturing the Ponche Handicap at Calder 13 months ago.

Yesbyjimminy makes his first start since finishing far back in an overnight stakes on Oct. 20. He posted a trio of triple-digit Beyers over his home course last summer, including a career-best 110 earned for his easy five-length triumph in the Eillo Stakes in August.

Yesbyjimminy registered a pair of bullet five-furlong works within a nine-day span in preparation for his return.

"He had a little surgery after his last start and came out of it 110 per cent," said Eddie Plesa Jr., who trains Yesbyjimminy. "He's training well and shouldn't need a race Saturday even after the layoff."

Plesa said although he would prefer to keep Yesbyjimminy here this summer, the recent purse cuts may force him to change plans.