04/23/2011 2:32PM

Calder: 40th anniversary meet begins

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MIAMI – Calder Race Course will celebrate its 40th anniversary when kicking off its 2011 meeting on Monday.

As usual, Calder will split its season between two meets. The 101-day Calder session will run through Sept. 30 and be followed by the 45-day Tropical meet ,which begins Oct. 1 and continues until Dec. 2. Post time will be 12:30 p.m. daily.

Calder will close one month earlier than usual this season to avoid a head-to-head conflict with nearby Gulfstream Park, which opens its 2011-2012 meet on Dec. 3.

Once again the July 9 Summit of Speed, which has become Calder’s signature event, will highlight the $6.2 million stakes program. The Summit of Speed features four graded stakes topped by the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap and the Grade  2 Smile Sprint, which was recently designated a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The Festival of the Sun will be held for the first time this season during theTropical meet on Oct. 15. Other big event days include the Juvenile Showcase on Aug. 27 and the Florida Million on Nov. 12.

Among the major changes to the wagering menu will be the addition of a late pick five with an industry low 12 percent takeout.

“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season,” said racing secretary Mike Anifantis. “With the help of the Florida Breeders’, we’ve been able to add some interesting races for 3-year-olds to our stakes program, I’ve got more than a dozen new stables coming in to race here this summer, including trainer Nick Canani with 40 horses for owner Frank Calabrese, and our overnight purses will be starting at a higher level than they did last year.”

As usual, the 2-year-old program will be the focus of attention. Awesome Feather swept the filly division of the Florida Stallion Stakes as a stepping-stone to her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and an Eclipse Award as the champion 2-year-old filly of 2010. Three of the 20 potential starters for this year’s Kentucky Derby, Mucho Macho Man, Watch Me Go, and Decisive Moment, all were developed and began their careers as 2-year-olds at Calder.

The opening day feature is the $55,000 Hollywood Wildcat scheduled to be run at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. The race drew a field of 10, including Grade 3 stakes winner Cherokee Queen and Trip for A. J., a three-time stakes winner over the Calder turf course at 3. Trip for A. J. was also entered in Sunday’s Capital Request at Gulfstream.

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