05/17/2013 2:58PM

Calder notes: Memorial Day Handicap a possibility for Bellefire


MIAMI – Trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. is looking for the right spot to bring Bellefire back from a brief freshening, especially after watching the multiple stakes-placed colt work a sharp five furlongs in 1:01.67 from the gate here Friday morning.

Whether that “spot” will be the $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap here a week from Monday remains to be determined.

Bellefire is one of 15 older horses nominated for the Memorial Day, which will be decided around two turns at 1 1/16 miles.

“The problem with this horse is that he’s at his best going seven furlongs or a one-turn mile,” Azpurua said. “So the decision really comes down to whether we want to stretch him out around two turns to a mile and one sixteenth for this race, or wait for a more suitable race either here or out of town.”

Azpurua said Joe Balsamo, who owns and bred Bellefire, will be in town on unrelated business this weekend and that the two are going to sit down and discuss their options before making the decision whether to run in or pass the Memorial Day.

“I was very pleased with his work this morning. It was exactly what I was looking for,” Azpurua said. “He’d been working relatively easy since his last race at Gulfstream, and I wanted to sharpen him up a little, which is why I sent him out of the gate.”

Bellefire has been idle since finishing fifth, beaten nearly a dozen lengths by Travelin Man, in the 6 1/2-furlong Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream on March 30. In his only other start this season, Bellefire rallied belatedly to finish third in the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

“The last race was probably a mistake, shortening him up to 6 1/2 furlongs, especially at Gulfstream,” Azpurua explained. “There just wasn’t anything out there at seven furlongs or a mile, and we were kind of forced to try that spot. But he doesn’t have the kind of speed it takes to keep up at distances under seven-eighths. It takes him a little while to get going, and at Gulfstream, if you’re not close enough early, you’re just not going to catch those horses upfront. He’s ready to go now, and I’d like to run him here next week, but the distance is really the question mark.”

Csaba, Argentine Tango, Decisive Moment, Isutalkintome, Manicero, Megamove, and Where’s Sterling are among the other prominent names on the nomination list for the Memorial Day.

Starship Zorro looks like choice

Starship Zorro will likely be favored over nine other 3-year-olds in Sunday’s $28,000 allowance feature to be decided at a mile on the turf. Starship Zorro, a homebred son of Giant’s Causeway owned by Laurence Leavy’s Starship stables, rallied from last to finish second behind Backseat Memories under similar conditions three weeks earlier. Backseat Memories flattered the effort when returning to win the Mambo Meister overnight stakes here last weekend.

Hansel Tazwell, who finished a tiring fifth in the Mambo Meister, may prove the one to catch in a field that also includes How About Peace, who brings a two-race win streak down from Tampa, Success Rate, and All Keyed Up.

◗ Apprentice Jonathan Gonzales moved to the top of the leader board in the race for the jockey title after posting a hat trick Thursday. Orlando Bocachica also had a riding double on the eight-race card.