07/06/2011 3:35PM

Calder: Champagne d'Oro rested, ready for Princess Rooney Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Champagne d’Oro has shipped to south Florida for the Princess Rooney.

MIAMI – If you want to talk to a trainer who speaks his mind, Eric Guillot is your man. If you want to bet on a trainer who knows a thing or two about shipping a horse into a tropical climate like south Florida during the dead of summer for a stakes race, once again Guillot is your guy.

SUMMIT OF SPEED: Calder past performances, Smile Sprint video preview »

The colorful Guillot landed in Miami late Wednesday morning, just a few hours before his Champagne d’Oro was scheduled to arrive from the West Coast for Saturday’s Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap. The Princess Rooney will be Champagne d’Oro’s first start since her fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 El Encino on Jan. 16. She has not won a race since capturing the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga nearly a year ago.

“She ran 16 times without a break at 2 and 3, so I just needed to give her a layoff,” Guillot said moments after his arrival in south Floirda. “She was just a tired horse. The Breeders’ Cup probably should have been her last race, but we ran her twice more after that. I just felt freshening her up during the best weather in California, winter time in the desert, was the way to go.”

Champagne d’Oro first burst into the national spotlight when upsetting Belmont’s Grade 1 Acorn at odds of 39-1 in June 2010. She proved that victory was no fluke nine weeks later by dominating the seven-furlong Test by 4 1/2 lengths. Champagne d’Oro, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, has made only four starts since the Test, including a fourth-place finish as the tepid favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“She’s been training spectacular, in her last work out of the gate she went her opening furlong in 13 then finished the last three-eighths in 34 and galloped out real strong,” Guillot said. “The locals have a big advantage over this track and in this weather, but having my roots in the humidity and swamp weather, I know what it takes to ship a horse down here this time of year.”

A Louisiana native, Guillot has already had some success shipping horses to Calder for big stakes races. In 1999, he brought his 3-year-old filly Show Me the Stage in twice, to win the Grade 3 Azalea and then beat the boys in the Calder Turf Sprint Handicap (now called the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Handicap.)

“ One thing I see other people do wrong when they ship in here this time of year is that they start galloping as soon as they get down here,” Guillot said. “And by Saturday, their horses look like a prune. I’ll just school her a couple of days in the paddock if I can, because she hasn’t run in so long, and maybe jog her a couple of miles Friday. It’s not easy coming off a six-month layoff in a Grade 1 race, but she’s razor sharp and plenty fit, and we’ve got to start somewhere. This should be a good stepping-stone for her to get to the Ballerina this summer at Saratoga.”

Surface change suits Black Diamond Cat

The Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint, which has been a fixture on the Summit of Speed program for years, was advanced five days on the schedule to anchor Monday’s July Fourth program for the first time this year. Unfortunately, the change coincided with week-long rains that forced the race to be moved to the main track for the second time in the last five renewals.

The beneficiary of the switch was Black Diamond Cat, who rallied from off the pace to nip the speedy Accredit by a nose under jockey Juan Leyva. The win was the second in a row for Black Diamond Cat, a son of Wildcat Heir trained by Larry Bates.

“I was fine with the race coming off the turf, but he’s doing so good right now I’d have run him either way,” said Bates who trains Black Diamond Cat for owner James Dudge. “I’ve had him from the get-go, and after he won his first race he jumped over the wall out of the winner’s circle. I though I might have to send him to Jonathan Sheppard because his future might be as a jumper, but he’s calmed down some since then.”

Accredit showed marked improvement with the addition of blinkers and ran huge in defeat, while 2-1 favorite You Luckie Mann showed little speed and finished a non-threatening fourth in a field that scratched down from 11 to eight after the race was taken off the grass.

◗ HRTV will be on hand to provide live coverage of Saturday’s Summit of Speed card. Peter Lurie and Caton Bredar will be onsite for the broadcast.

◗ Peter Wasiluk, a long-time owner and the father of trainer Peter Wasiluk Jr., passed away Sunday at the age of 83 in Clearwater, Fla. Wasiluk began his career on the racetrack working the test barn at Garden State Park in the 1960s. His son currently campaigns a stable of horses at Calder, while a grandson works on the starting gate at Delaware Park.