09/17/2011 6:51PM

Calder: Manicero shows new dimension by winning Needles on turf

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Jim Lisa Photos
In his last two starts, Manicero has proved he can go two turns and handle turf.

MIAMI - Manicero proved he could rate and carry his speed two turns when winning the Naked Greed Stakes last month. On Saturday, the versatile Manicero showed he could also handle the turf when rallying to a game half-length decision over the 11-1 outsider Star of Sarava in the $75,000 Needles Stakes at Calder. Manicero, a 3-year-old son of Mass Media, rated in mid-pack under jockey Juan Leyva for the opening half of the 1 1/16-mile Needles. Manicero, the even-money favorite, began to gradually work his way forward around the second turn, came three wide to continue his rally into the stretch, then after wearing down the pacesetting Oligarch near the sixteenth pole withstood a closing surge from Star of Sarava.

Oligarch gradually weakened to finish third, five lengths behind Star of Sarava.

The win was the eighth in 11 starts for Manicero, who is owned and trained by Leo Azpurua Jr.  He completed the distance in 1:43.15 seconds over a firm course and returned $4.

“He had to run hard but he answered another question today,” said Azpurua, referring to Manicero’s turf debut. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and we’ve tried to bring him along step by step.”

Judy’s Red Shoes: Callmethesqueeze stays perfect on turf in Judy's Red Shoes

Callmethesqueeze remained undefeated on grass, circling five wide into the stretch before running down a stubborn Blue Angel Express to capture the $75,000 Judy’s Red Shoes for 3-year-old fillies on the grass.

Callmethesqueeze was confidently handled by jockey Jose Alvarez, rating at the rear of the field for over six furlongs of the mile and 70-yard Judy’s Red Shoes before commencing her run on the second turn. Alvarez angled Callmethesqueeze extremely wide to continue her bid into the stretch and she ultimately wore down the leader to win edging away by a length.

Blue Angel Express overtook pacesetter Prize Informant to gain control near the eighth pole, held stubbornly, but proved no match for the winner. Prize Informant gradually weakened, finishing another two lengths further back in third.

Callmethesqueeze, a daughter of Awesome Again, is now perfect in three starts on turf for owner Gary Aiken and trainer Manny Azpurua. She paid $3.20.

“I had a lot of confidence going into this race; really, I felt there was no way she could get beat,” said Manny Azpurua. “ I think she’s very good, perhaps better on the grass, but I believe she can run on both [dirt and turf].”  

Manny Azpurua is the uncle of Manicero's trainer, Leo Azpurua Jr.