09/09/2011 3:31PM

Calder: Manicero, Decisive Moment may meet again in Indiana Derby

Jim Lisa Photos
Decisive Moment, winning the El Kaiser, is headed to the Indiana Derby, where he could meet his Calder rival Manicero on Oct. 1.

MIAMI – Manicero and Decisive Moment, two of the top 3-year-olds on the grounds at Calder, and who finished one-two in the Naked Greed Stakes here last month, could find their paths crossing again later this fall in, of all places, Indiana.

Manicero and Decisive Moment nearly crossed paths when turning in sharp workouts here after the renovation break on Friday morning. Manicero was the first to go, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.68 and galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.71 for trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. Decisive Moment followed a short while later with a bullet half in 47.79 seconds under jockey Daniel Centeno.

Azpurua said his first goal for Manicero will be the $75,000 Needles Stakes scheduled to be run next Saturday at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, but said the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby could also be a possibility two weeks later.

“I really would love to see him run on the grass although he’s still going to start in the Needles even if they take it off the turf,” said Azpurua. “I’m going on the strength of his dam [Ritzy Blitz], who produced Puerto Plata and other turf winners, that he will love the grass. And it sure is big to have a horse who can go both ways. Especially around here.”

Azpurua said if Manicero takes to the turf as he expects, he will consider the Grade 1 Jamaica for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park on Oct. 8.

“I’m going to nominate him to the Indiana Derby as well,” said Azpurua. “It comes around a little quick but it’s something I’d still look at depending upon how he runs on Saturday. The problem is with all the rain we’ve had here, we may never have another turf race any more. As a trainer you just have to take it as it comes.”

Decisive Moment, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, was hard-used on the lead before proving no match for Manicero through the final furlong of the Naked Greed.

“I had a 40-1 shot hook me for the first half-mile of that race and another longshot hook me from the half to the quarter pole,” said Decisive Moment’s trainer, Juan Arias. “That’s what favored Manicero that day and it’s what can happen when you have a horse with the hard-running style mine has. There’s always somebody out there to chase you.”

Arias did not even nominate Decisive Moment for the Needles, preferring to give him some extra time to prepare for the Indiana Derby.

“I ran him twice in three weeks and it would just be too hard on him to go back in the Needles,” said Arias. “Besides, this horse is better in cold weather and it should be cold by the time we get to Indiana. I know he won’t run into easy company up there but he should be a better horse in that climate at that time of the year.”

The Needles, which is restricted to 3-year-olds, lured 16 nominations and is one of four stakes to be decided here next Saturday. The others are the $100,000 Foolish Pleasure and its 2-year-old filly counterpart, the $100,000 Brave Raj, and the $75,000 Judy’s Red Shoes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.

The Foolish Pleasure and Brave Raj serve as preps for the final rounds of the Florida Stallion Stakes, the In Reality and My Dear Girl, to be decided on Oct. 15. Fort Loudon, who has won the opening two legs of the open division, and his stablemate Argentine Tango are among the 14 2-year-olds nominated to the Foolish Pleasure. Their trainer, Stanley Gold, also nominated his two top juvenile fillies, Redbud Road and Awesome Belle, for the Brave Raj.

NTRA re-accredits Calder

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced Calder has earned re-accreditation from its Safety and Integrity Alliance. The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Calder received its initial accreditation in September 2009.

Calder is the ninth racetrack to earn re-accreditation. During the latest Alliance inspection of Calder, best practices were identified in areas including procedures for maintaining the veterinarian list; participation in safety research; safety training and continuing education programs; and aftercare and transitioning of retired racehorses.