08/20/2011 5:36PM

Calder: Manicero handles first route assignment in Naked Greed

Jim Lisa
The 3-yeara-old filly Nasty Rumor could be headed to the $100,000 Maryland Million Oaks after winning the off-the-turf Crystal Rail.

Trainer Leo Azpurua was dying to try Manicero on the turf in Saturday’s $75,000 Naked Greed Stakes at Calder. But Azpurua wasn’t exactly singing the blues after both the Naked Greed and its filly counterpart, the $75,000 Crystal Rail Stakes,  were taken off the grass and moved to a fast main track due to all the rain that fell in south Florida again this  week.

Racing around two turns for the first time in his career, Manicero rallied along the inside to a convincing five-length triumph over Decisive Moment in the one-mile Naked Greed. The victory was the seventh in 10 career starts, all on dirt, for Manicero who was winning for the first time beyond seven furlongs.

Decisive Moment, a member of this year’s Kentucky Derby field, rallied outside horses to finish second as the 6-5 favorite in a starting lineup that scratched down from 16 to nine starters as a result of the surface change.

Manicero paid $10.60. His final time was 1:39.41 for a mile over a fast track.

“I felt confident that he would go two turns because of the way he won his races at seven-eighths and galloped out,” said Azpurua. “He won two of three {going seven furlongs] and was eliminated at the start in the other one [Hutcheson Stakes] at Gulfstream.. I didn’t want to stretch him out until later in the season. I passed on the El Kaiser here three weeks ago because I was really looking to try him on grass, but obviously he’s good on dirt. We’ll look at options here and out of town from here.””

Nasty Rumor, unlike Manicero, had already proven her ability on grass. But like Azpurua, her trainer Marty Wolfson also was comfortable with the announcement that the Crystal Rail had been moved to the dirt.

Despite stumbling at the break, Nasty Rumor recovered to stalk the pace of Prize Informant and then withstood  a stretch-long bid from Callmethesqueeze to register a game half -length decision in the Crystal Rail.  Battle of Love, the 4-5 favorite, finished another 5 ¼ lengths farther back in third.

Nasty Rumor, a 3-year-old Johannesburg filly, paid $12  after covering a mile in 1:40.10.

“Her last race was my fault,” said Wolfson, referring to Nasty Rumor’s fifth-place finish as the 9-5  favorite in the Sweetrickydancer on July 9. “I ran her back in three weeks and she just needs more time. She’s had seven weeks since her last. That was the difference. I was fine with the race coming off the turf. If you throw out her last, she’s fine on dirt. She’s a Maryland-bred, so we’ll look at taking her to Laurel in October,” referring to the $100,000 Maryland Million Oaks on Oct. 1.