03/29/2013 3:49PM

Calder Derby may have 10 in gate

Tom Keyser
Elmutahid is one of two horses trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has nominated to the Calder Derby, along with Irsaal.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Ready for another derby? One week after Gulfstream Park presents its cornerstone event, the $1 million Florida Derby, crosstown rival Calder Racecourse counters with a derby of its own, the $250,000 Calder Derby, which highlights Saturday’s opening-day program at the north Miami oval.

The 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby, which was switched from turf to dirt this season, attracted 29 nominations led by trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.’s duo of Itsmyluckyday and Speak Logistics, neither of whom will run.

According to the racing office, a field of from seven to 10 3-year-olds are expected to contest the Calder Derby, topped by trainer Mark Casse’s Sky Captain, who has not started since finishing 10th in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct. Sky Captain, who was among Casse’s leading 2-year-old prospects last season, has been “a disappointment” thus far at 3, according to his trainer, but did finish second behind Cerro in a first-level optional-claiming race at Gulfstream earlier this winter.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is contemplating starting one of his two nominees to the Calder Derby, either Elmutahid or Irsaal. Elmutahid finished a distant ninth behind Orb in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth after posting an impressive maiden win going 1 1/8 miles five weeks earlier. Irsaal, who finished off the board in both the Grade 2 Nashua and Remsen at 2, has been no factor in two allowance runs at Gulfstream to begin his 3-year-old campaign. The two horses worked in company at Palm Meadows on Friday, going five furlongs in 1:00.80.

The Calder-based contingent for the Derby figures to include Joshua’s Comprise, Leveraged Loan, Michael With Us, Offlee Fast, Reporting Star, and Sr. Quisqueyano. C D Gold, Silver Day, and Cerro are considered possible starters, according to stakes coordinator Sean Perl.

One horse on the nomination list headed elsewhere next weekend will be Declan’s Warrior. Trainer Nick Zito said Declan’s Warrior is being pointed to Saturday’s Grade 3 Bay Shore going seven furlongs on the Wood Memorial undercard.

“I thought about the Calder Derby but decided to keep him short for now,” Zito said shortly after Declan’s Warrior worked a half-mile in 47.38 seconds at Palm Meadows on Friday. “He’s a very good horse, and we’re going to do it the old-fashioned way and take our time stretching him out.”

Declan’s Warrior dead-heated for win with Narvaez in a 7 1/2-furlong optional-claiming race at Gulfstream earlier this month. Narvaez was to be among the 10 starters in the Florida Derby.

Zito also breezed Fort Loudon an easy half-mile Friday at Palm Meadows in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct. Fort Loudon is coming off a third-place finish behind Discreet Dancer going a mile in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.