05/19/2010 11:00PM

Calder roundup



Defending Calder riding champion Manny Cruz moved back into his familiar spot atop the standings last week, leapfrogging apprentice Luis Saez by posting seven victories from Thursday through Sunday, including four Friday. Cruz is also spreading the wealth; each of his seven wins came for a different barn.

The apprentice colony is overflowing here this season. Saez is the most experienced and the best of the local bug riders at the meet, but another apprentice making a name for himself is Angel Moreno, who moved up the ranks by winning a race on each of the four programs carded here last week. Two of those victories came on a couple of 6-1 outsiders for trainer Bisnath Parboo, Dealing Lucky and She's Trippin Hot. Moreno also posted a $64.60 shocker with Bobbie's Queen on Friday before completing his big week with a wire-to-wire win going two turns atop 5-2 favorite Delaware Manor on Sunday.


It is no surprise to see the majority of the locally based riders struggle each winter at Gulfstream Park, arguably the strongest jockey colony in the country. But several have remained in a drought since action switched across town last month.

Among the jockeys accustomed to having a lot more success each season and looking to break out are J. F. Ortiz (2 for 49), Pedro Monterrey Jr. (5 for 96), J. A. Garcia (3 for 115), Luca Panici (4 for 83), Luis Arango (5 for 90), Manny Aguilar (3 for 93), and Eddie Dominguez (3 for 159).


The main track seems to be playing a little quicker and is definitely favoring speed, although some of the faster early splits, especially in sprint races on the turf and dirt, were probably abetted by a tailwind down the backstretch. The turf course has become extremely hard because of a lack of rain here this month.

Thursday, May 13: Speed and stalkers combined to win all seven main-track races. Aircraft Intercept gave an early indication of how quick the strip was playing when completing six furlongs in a relatively brisk 1:11.08 (remember this is Calder, not Gulfstream Park) to capture the second race for $10,000 claimers. The turf was just as lively with Sittin' on Gold forcing a 20-and-change opening quarter and a 43-and-change half en route to winning her career debut going five furlongs.

Friday, May 14: Speed dominated, with six of the seven main-track races won on the lead; the seventh was won by the 3-2 Casino Gambler, who stalked the pace before joining the leaders in early stretch. The turf was not as kind to front-runners, with none of the early leaders winning any of the afternoon's three events on the grass.

Saturday, May 15: The 12-race card began the way the previous one had left off, with front-runners winning the first three main-track sprints, two of them at 4 1/2 furlongs for 2-year-olds. The trend would have continued in the featured ninth race had Paizano not broken down while cruising on the lead. It was a mixed bag over the rock-hard grass course, with two front-running winners, one stalker, and two closers accounting for the five turf races on the card. Omar's Tiger deserved an extra carrot back at the barn after setting a lightning fast pace, six furlongs in 1:09.71, and still holding on to earn his diploma.

Sunday, May 16: Five of the six main-track races were won on the front end, the lone exception being Pago Island's come-from-behind victory in the third race. The two early turf races were won from off the pace before Durlores closed the week with a gate-to-wire triumph going five furlongs on the turf.


Calder's reputation for turning out high-caliber 2-year-olds each summer was enhanced by Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck, multiple Grade 2 winner D'Funnybone, and Preakness third-place finisher Jackson Bend, all of whom began their careers locally before being purchased privately and moving on to bigger and better things.

It's a little too early to tell if Cheyann Belief or Miss Sarah Brown will follow in their footsteps, but they each had an impressive debut win last Saturday. Cheyann Belief was especially brilliant, winning by 10 widening lengths while finishing with speed to spare. A son of D'wildcat, he is trained by Joe Calascibetta, who also developed D'Funnybone before selling him privately a year ago.


The small pools in some of the multiple wagers offered here daily have led to some illogical payoffs early in the meet, none more so than Sunday's late double and trifecta payouts. The late daily double of Gorgeous Melody ($27.40) and Dulores ($19.80) returned $456 for $2; the pick three sequence combining those two with Sigmondo ($18.80) paid a mere $238.20 for the same $2 ducat in what may be the worst value payoff in the history of pick-three wagering. The parlay of those three horses would have returned roughly $2,500. The pools for both the late daily double and pick three were nearly identical - a mere $8,659 in the former and $8,650 in the latter.


Some pertinent recent workouts for horses entered on Saturday's program.

First race

Lance's Song: Has had some gate issues but broke well enough before just loping through an easy three-eighths in 38.61 under some restraint.

Stormhere: Undefeated colt overcame a slow start to win his debut at Tampa but will have to step up his game the second time around. Worked a very ordinary half in 51.45 from the gate here May 11 while under pressure to finish.

Second race

Crisp Cat: Worked a slow three-eighths in 38.84 from the gate May 7, when he finished far behind a workmate.

Third race

He's Alright: Finished second in a set of three from the gate May 16, showing some speed and galloping out a half in 49.89. Looks like a factor making his debut.

Seventh race

Watch Me Go: Showed some early speed in company with a pair of stablemates breaking from the gate May 16, going three-eighths in 36.24 without pressure before galloping out a half in 50.25.

It'sapossibility: Matched work of stablemate Cheyann Belief from the gate May 8, galloping out a half-mile in 49.53.

10th race

Stones River: Final blowout for this start was a good one Monday, a half-mile in 49.40 that featured a strong finish and excellent five-eighths gallop-out in 1:01.70. It's likely he will start only if the race switches to the main track.

Jet Propulsion: He has had two gate works since breaking poorly and finishing eighth in the Miami Mile. He was a handful just to get to the gate Tuesday morning, but broke cleanly and cruised an easy half-mile in 50.47.

12th race

Don't Say No: Won a set of three from the gate May 13, going a half under pressure in 49.56 before galloping out five-eighths in 1:03.61.

Osuna: Showed little speed in his March 31 and April 5 gate works.

Foralltheglory: Working from the gate May 8, he finished well under pressure to get a half in 49.52 over a moderately cuppy racetrack. I liked this work a bit better than the last one.


Nervous Marving

Trainer: Gilberto Zerpa

Last race: May 14, 5th

Finish: 5th by 1 3/4

He found trouble on several occasions from the quarter pole home while seemingly full of run during an eventful journey on the turf. Took up sharply near the eighth pole and again in late stretch before galloping out past the field shortly beyond the wire.

Old Town

Trainer: Terry Oliver

Last race: May 14, 6th

Finish: 2nd by 3 1/4

This improving 3-year-old turned in another good effort in his first start in nearly two months, chasing home only the favorite despite getting roughed badly between horses shortly after the break. The way he finished over a track that favored speed throughout the afternoon was encouraging.

Luna Grande

Trainer: Herman Wilensky

Last race: May 15, 6th

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/4

Making her debut in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight, this promising 2-year-old filly chased well-backed winner from start to finish and held gamely to the end while easily second-best. She has the looks and breeding of a youngster who wants more distance.

Kate's Holiday

Trainer: Henry Collazo

Last race: May 15, 11th

Finish: 2nd by head

This improving 3-year-old filly finished with good energy in her first start against winners, falling just short of getting her second straight victory despite losing considerable ground turning for home.