11/19/2009 12:00AM

Calder roundup



The top three local riders - Luis Saez, Eibar Coa, and Manoel Cruz - all had big weekends.

Saez took the outright lead in the jockey standings for the Tropical at Calder meeting after winning two races on Saturday's Florida Million card and four more the following afternoon. Both Coa and Cruz, the defending Tropical riding champion, won a pair of stakes on Florida Million Day. Coa posted consecutive victories aboard Bim Bam in the Appleton Juvenile Turf and Pashito the Che in the Jack Dudley Sprint before returning to post a hat trick on Sunday. Cruz also went back to back Saturday with Sweet Repent in the Elmer Heubeck Distaff and Soldier's Dancer in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup.

Jockey Antonio Gallardo had registered just a single victory from his first 101 mounts at the meet but won a pair of races within a 24-hour span last weekend. Gallardo guided longshot Storm and Beers out of trouble and into the winner's circle in Friday's finale then came back on Saturday to register his first U.S. stakes victory with a nifty ride aboard the 25-1 Wild Mia in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.


Florida Million Day proved to be an untypical bad afternoon for trainer Marty Wolfson and jockey Julian Leparoux.

Wolfson, who entered the weekend atop the trainer standings having saddled 7 winners from his first 13 starters at the meet, was blanked on Saturday. Wolfson sent out six starters on the Florida Million program, all in stakes, four of whom were defeated at odds of even money or less.

Leparoux, who one week earlier had captured three Breeders' Cup races, rode all four of Wolfson's losing favorites as well as the 4-5 Family Foundation, runner-up in the Appleton.

Although Wolfson failed to win a race on Florida Million Day, the afternoon wasn't a total loss. He did wind up with a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds in stakes races with his six starters earning purse money in excess of $120,000 on the day.


The main track has continued to be cuppy and deep with final times on the slow side throughout the past week. That trend that can be blamed, in part, by the brisk, westerly winds that prevailed during the majority of that period and provided a severe headwind for the run down the backstretch in races carded on both the dirt and turf courses.

As was the case four weeks earlier on the Festival of the Sun program, the rail appeared to be the deepest spot on the main track on Florida Million Day. This prevailing bias arguably skewed the results, to some degree, of all races decided on the dirt, including the five stakes that afternoon. In fact, none of the eight stakes, either turf or dirt, contested Saturday was won by a horse on the lead.

Among the speed horses most affected by the deep main-track rail were Good to Be Seen (second in the Jack Price Juvenile); Jessica Is Back (runner-up in the Elmer Heubeck Distaff); Prince Joshua, (second in the Jack Dudley Sprint); and Rosebuds Ridge (fifth in the Joe O'Farrell Juvenile Fillies). Bernie the Maestro (fifth following a slow start in the Appleton) and Winsockie (third in the Juvenile Fillies Turf) turned in good efforts on the front end over the turf.

A similar trend also prevailed on Sunday with nary a wire- to-wire winner on either the main or turf courses once again.


Florida Million Day marked the last of the stakes action around here for several weeks. Grand Slam I is up next on Dec. 5, a card that features the Grade 3 My Charmer and Tropical Turf handicaps for older horses on turf. The Grade 3 Frances Genter Stakes, also scheduled for that afternoon, has been canceled by track management due to purse considerations.


Unquestionably, Sweet Repent's impressive 3o1/4-length victory over 3-5 favorite Jessica Is Back in the Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap. The win was the third in a row for the steadily improving, 3-year-old filly, who earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. That number has been eclipsed only by Rachel Alexandra among 3-year-old fillies in 2009.


Anyone who saved back editions of the DRF Weekend could have been rewarded by playing Hear Ye Hear Ye in Saturday's Jack Price Juvenile. On Oct. 17, it was noted that Hear Ye Hear Ye "turned in an extremely impressive work going five-eighths in 1:00.47 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.48 over a very deep and cuppy racetrack." That workout came one week prior to the inconsistent 2-year-old finishing fourth after contesting the pace at odds of 3-1 in the Birdonthewire Stakes. On Saturday, Hear Ye Hear Ye returned against virtually the same field but this time rated off the leaders, swung out in the better going away from the rail leaving the turn, then readily ran down pacesetter Good to be Seen to capture the Jack Price by nearly two widening lengths. He paid $43.20!


Not much to report from a workout standpoint on Saturday's card, which offers only a single maiden race for 2-year-olds over the main track. The opener, a $32,000 claiming sprint for juvenile maidens, includes a couple of first-time starters to go along with Flamin' Hot, who has changed barns via a private purchase since his only previous start.

Of the new faces, Bonus Coverage definitely deserves the nod over One Nice Copy Cat, who showed a little speed but tired under pressure in his Oct. 24 gate work. Bonus Coverage shows a nice series of drills that includes three consecutive trips to the starting gate in preparation for his debut. The Oct. 26 drill came in company with three stablemates during which he breezed without much urging. Unfortunately, I was in California for the Breeders' Cup and did not see either of his last two works, including a near-bullet half-mile from the pole last week.

Flamin' Hot has switched to Steve DiMauro's barn following a promising debut, and his 50 -and-change half- mile breeze on Sunday came late in the morning over a very slow and cuppy track.

Recent works of note this past week include Why I Love, a half-mile in 50.22 from the gate over a very deep track on Nov. 13; Silk Ridge, a half-mile in 48.54 over a cuppy strip on Nov. 14; La Chica Sensual, four furlongs in 48.60 and out five-eighths in 1:01.85, also on Nov. 14; Officer'sgentleman, four furlongs in 49.15 winning a set of six from the gate on Nov. 14; Book Says Yet, a pressured three furlongs in 35.80 from the gate on Nov. 15; and Rusty Charlie, a half-mile from the gate in 48.47 on Nov. 16.


Tillie the Tigress

Trainer: Bill White

Last race: Nov. 14, 4th

Finish: 9th by 12

Not giving up on this lightly raced 2-year-old filly, whose chances were compromised in her last two starts, both against stakes opposition. She was caught on the rail while setting a contested pace two back in the My Dear Girl, and she broke slowly and got stuffed in traffic around the final bend when trying grass for the first time last week. She is eligible to finally find a more suitable spot with allowance company next time.

Prince Joshua

Trainer: Barry Rose

Last race: Nov. 14, 8th

Finish: 2nd by neck

Found home cooking more to his liking following a couple of awful tries on the road. Dueled from a dead rail, and held gamely before succumbing to odds-on Pashito the Che in the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap; Pashito the Che benefited from racing out in the swifter going throughout. Prince Joshua earned a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

White Shoes

Trainer: Rodolfo Garcia

Last race: Nov. 13, 8th

Finish: 1st by 3 1/4

Once highly regarded 2- and 3-year-old prospect returned from another lengthy vacation with a corking effort, overcoming a slow start to dominate entry-level optional claiming opposition. Figures to move forward off this performance and handle the jump to the next level and even a little stretch out in distance next time.