07/02/2012 3:53PM

Calder: Few shippers make trip for Summit of Speed

Bob Coglianese
Musical Romance figures to be favored in Saturday's Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap.

MIAMI – There used to be a time when northern invaders would ship down in droves and dominate the rich Summit of Speed, leaving town year in and year out with most of the big bucks up for grabs during Calder Race Course’s marquee event.

But with the number of rich options for sprinters having increased substantially nationwide since the Summit’s inception in 2000, that trend has reversed itself recently with locally based runners having won seven of the eight graded Summit stakes decided over the past two summers. And the home team is virtually assured of dividing up the majority of the prize money once again this year, with only four horses based outside south Florida shipping down to compete in the four graded stakes on Saturday’s 12-race Summit of Speed card.

The $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, the only Grade 1 event on the Calder stakes program, and the Grade 2, $400,000 Smile Handicap, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, once again highlight the program. The $150,000 Carry Back and its filly counterpart, the $150,000 Azalea, are both Grade 3 events.

The imposing presence of the locally based Musical Romance, the reigning Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and Eclipse Award winner, is one reason out-of-town horsemen are reluctant to ship down for the Princess Rooney. Only two fillies, Grade 2 winner Nicole H and Grade 3 winner Bouquet Booth, have made the trip to south Florida to face Musical Romance, runner-up in the 2011 Princess Rooney, over her home course.

A field of 11 was drawn Monday for the six-furlong Princess Rooney, five of the 11 from the barn of trainer Marty Wolfson. Nicole H tuned up for the race by breezing a half-mile in 48.78 seconds here Monday.

Only Gantry, exiting a third-place finish behind Shackleford and reigning Sprint champion Amazombie in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs, has shipped in to try to win a free pass into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with a victory in the Smile. The remainder of the field consists of locals led by Apriority and Field Commission.

Trinniberg, winner of Belmont’s Grade 2 Woody Stephens in his first start since the Kentucky Derby, was cross-entered in both the Carry Back and Smile.