06/09/2010 11:00PM

Calder roundup



Jockeys Luis Saez and Manoel Cruz continue to separate themselves from the rest of the pack this meeting. Saez won a dozen races during the week ending on Memorial Day, taking a seemingly commanding lead in the standings. But that advantage quickly evaporated after Cruz captured eight races in a three-day span last week, including four Friday and three Sunday.

The apprentice ranks, led by Saez, are overflowing here this summer. Well over a dozen bug riders sporting allowances from five to 10 pounds have already accepted mounts during the session. One of those is Angel Moreno, who won three races last week to move into third place in the overall standings.

Among the veterans, the hottest aside from Cruz last week was Edgar Perez, who posted four victories, topped by a back-to-back riding double Sunday.

Bill White has slowly scratched his way back to his familiar spot atop the trainer standings. The perennial Calder training champ, he sent out three winners last week, topped by Strong Star, a promising 3-year-old colt. Strong Star was geared down at the end of his impressive debut and won by six lengths and probably could have won by a dozen if pushed to the wire. White also had the one-time stakes-caliber Americanrevolution looking like his old self, cruising to an easy optional claiming/allowance win Sunday.

Chalk players were also on fire during the abbreviated race week from June 4-6, with 18 of 32 favorites getting home first during that span. That success rate was enhanced by an abundance of short fields, many of which were caused by the rain that forced management to switch eight of nine grass races scheduled for Friday and Saturday to the main track.


Like much of the last month, speed and stalkers dominated again here last weekend over the main track, which did quicken a bit after several days of rain.

Friday, June 4: The main track was fast, with all four turf races moved to the dirt. Seven of the 10 winners were on the lead by the time the field left the quarter pole, with Bond Baroness the only winner on the card making up more than 2 1/2 lengths from the top of the stretch to the wire.

Saturday, June 5: The main track was fast, and the turf was officially listed as "good" for the one race left on the grass, the $55,000 Lord Juban Stakes. The other four scheduled grass races wound up on the main track.

Once again it was hard to make up much ground from the quarter pole home, with seven of the first nine main-track winners either on the lead or within a half-length of the top at the quarter pole. The final two dirt races reversed the trend a bit, with Super Girlie rallying from 3 1/2 lengths behind the leaders and Flyin Trey rallying from 1 1/2 lengths to account for the afternoon's late daily double.

Sunday, June 6: More of the same and then some over a fast main track that was dominated by speed. Seven of the eight main-track winners were in front at the eighth pole, and only the odds-on Smart Kiddo was as far as two lengths off the lead by the time the field reached the quarter pole. Musical Romance won the two-turn Sweettrickydancer on grass from far back, and the five-furlong finale was won and then lost by a horse on the pace from the outset (more on that later).


Anybody who likes to look for horses coming out of key races now has several races to check from earlier in the season.

The third race April 30, a mid-level maiden claimer on the turf, has produced three next-out graduates. Runner-up Toro Santo, sixth-place finisher Mr. Rico, and eighth-place finisher Easy Aces all returned to earn diplomas in their next starts. In addition, Flyin Trey (third) won last Saturday's finale, and Solar Power (seventh) broke his maiden Sunday.

The seventh race May 1, a lower-level conditioned claimer on the grass, has since yielded four next-out winners. Green Lite Special and Sailors Song, first and second after dueling head to head on the lead from start to finish, both came back to win their next starts, as did also-rans To Heir Is Human and Besselink.

The second race May 13, a six-furlong open claiming dash for $10,000 claimers, has also proved to be strong. Also-rans Sea Mecke (fourth), Mize the Big Cat (fifth), and B L's Noise (seventh and last) all came out of the race to win their next starts. Aircraft Intercept, the runaway 9 3/4-length winner of the event, has yet to run back.


The following are insights into recent workouts for many of the runners competing in the three juvenile races on Saturday's card.

Third Race

Solder's Tune: Showed some early speed but tired late in his June 4 gate drill.

Rockee M.: Has done most of his training at Penn National. He was under the most pressure of a trio of O'Connell runners working a half-mile from the gate June 6.

Wireless Macho: He was under hard urging while working a slow half-mile in 51.62 seconds over a cuppy track May 22.

Pleaseandthankyou: Flashed some sharp early foot for the first three-eighths out of the gate May 29 but tired noticeably under pressure around the turn to the six-furlong pole.

Red Hot Humor: He had some speed, finishing second of a set of three from the gate under pressure May 27. Expect to see him debut in blinkers.

Fourth Race

Clancy's Candy: His gate work May 23 was hampered some when the whole set ran into traffic on the clubhouse turn.

Pretty Extravagant: She has shown 36-and-change speed in her two gate works.

Valid Distinction: She was quick but tired a bit at the end of her May 28 half-mile gate drill.

Majestic Toy: Quickest of a set of three from the gate May 29 while under only mild urging.

Misscoolslewtoyou: Has won a couple of sets from the gate against stablemates May 21 and June 5. Another of many in this event with a turn of speed.

Sixth Race

My Saint: He was much better from the gate May 29 than in his previous drill three weeks earlier. Should show up in blinkers.

Philourpockets: He was going the easiest of three O'Connells from the gate June 6 after trailing two other mates in his May 16 gate work.

Master Argument: Was fast from the gate May 29 but under pressure to do so.

Chateau D'Kim: He went quickest in a set of three Plesa trainees from the gate June 4 after showing speed from the pole on several occasions earlier this spring.

Little Drama: Big Drama's baby brother capped a series of works with a nice move when he was easily best of five breaking from the gate June 6.

Lesson Learned: Shaded 50 seconds for a half-mile but under pressure in his final gate drill.


True Will

Trainer: Dubis Chaparro

Last race: May 28, 7th

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/4

This mare returned from a long layoff with a game effort, especially considering she had her best chances compromised when she broke many lengths behind the field. She recovered to overtake the leaders and draw well clear at midstretch, only to be run down in the final strides of a very strong comeback outing.

Well Tanned Prez

Trainer: Robert Jeffries

Last race: May 28, 5th

Finish: 2nd by a neck

This lightly raced 3-year-old was well backed for his local debut, and the smart money was right on, although a tardy beginning arguably cost the gelding his maiden win. He recovered to rush to contention and join for command turning for home, only to be outgamed to the wire in late stretch.

Green Lite Special

Trainer: Bill Kaplan

Last race: May 30, 7th

Finish: 1st by a nose

An improving 3-year-old, he has flourished since being switched to the grass. He stepped up against $25,000 company and overcame a rough trip when he got shuffled back badly on the far turn to win for the second time in as many starts on turf.

Sweet Chantal

Trainer: Pedro Maestre

Last race: June 6, 10th

Finish: 4th by 1 1/4

This 3-year-old filly dropped in against conditioned claimers for the first time and was likely best, getting beaten just over a length despite getting stopped a couple of times in traffic approaching the stretch and checked sharply behind the winner while still in contention inside the sixteenth pole of a five-furlong turf dash.