06/19/2013 12:29PM

Calder notes: Black Diamond Cat earns spot in Smile Sprint

Coady Photography
Black Diamond Cat broke a long losing streak with this victory in the Ponche Handicap.

MIAMI – Black Diamond Cat won the Major Moran overnight stakes with a 100 Beyer Speed Figure here back in August of 2011. It took him 19 more starts to win again, virtually duplicating that effort while snapping a nearly two-year losing streak and upsetting the Ponche Handicap earlier this month.

By virtue of his big effort in the Ponche, Black Diamond Cat earned himself a spot in the premier sprint race on the Calder calendar, the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap, on July 6.

“He’s been kind of a victim of circumstances for awhile and has had some problems to overcome over the years,” said Larry Bates, who trains the 6-year-old gelding. “But he’s never stopped trying and is as honest as a horse can be.”

Sure enough, Black Diamond Cat posted seven second-place finishes during his 19-race losing streak while competing primarily against stakes horses. A former claimer who began his career racing for a $32,000 claiming tag, Black Diamond Cat moves up on an off track, having registered three of his seven wins over wet surfaces.

“Hopefully he’ll be able to throw another big race like the last one when he runs in the Smile,” Bates said. “The pace was ideal for him in the Ponche and we’ll be looking for a similar scenario next time. Weather could also be a big factor. He just nickers whenever he sees rain.”

Two of the leading candidates for the Smile, stablemates Jackson Bend and Fort Loudon, worked on Wednesday. Jackson Bend, a two-time Grade 1 winner, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 before the break to renovate the track, and Fort Loudon went the same distance in 1:01.24 shortly after the break. Both horses are trained by Stanley Gold.

2-year-olds get stakes shots

The first 2-year-old stakes of the season will be run Saturday, with the $100,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes sharing top billing on the card with its filly counterpart, the $100,000 J J’sdream Stakes. Both events will be decided at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Four maiden winners – Vinny’s Wildcat, Breitling Flyer, Brothersofthetime, and Yes I’m Lucky – are among the 11 colts and geldings entering in the Gomez. Yes I’m Lucky, who won at first asking earlier this month at Monmouth Park for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., will be ridden by Mike Smith.

Trainer Wesley Ward has sent Sweetmary’s Success down from Kentucky to go postward the likely favorite under Smith to defeat eight locally based juvenile fillies in the J J’sdream. The home team will be led by Scandalous Act, baby sister of last year’s Gomez winner Two T’s At Two B. Scandalous Act is one of two horses trainer Kathleen O’Connell will send out in the J J’sdream for owner-breeder Gil Campbell along with In Luv With Willie, who finished second in her only start.

Wolfson has tough pair in feature

Friday’s program will be topped by a second-level optional claiming race for fillies and mares on the main track. Trainer Marty Wolfson appears to hold the upper hand with the uncoupled duo of Centrique and Candy and Thunder.

Centrique is coming off a third-place finish in the Musical Romance overnight stakes in her local bow on April 20. She had finished fourth two weeks earlier in Aqueduct’s Grade 2 Ruffian. Candy and Thunder was sent here after being haltered for $40,000 out of a third-place finish in an optional claiming race on turf at Santa Anita two months ago. A daughter of Candy Ride, Candy and Thunder won an overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies last fall at Fairplex when with trainer Doug O’Neill.