12/03/2009 1:00AM

Calder roundup



Manoel Cruz

Of the three jockeys fighting for the leading rider title at the Tropical at Calder meet, Cruz had the most success last week, winning eight races to vault back atop the standings in defense of his 2008 crown. Cruz recorded a pair of hat tricks on Saturday and Sunday's programs, with all six of those victories coming for different trainers.

Luis Arrango

It was a topsy-turvy week for Arrango, who posted four victories, including three the day after Thanksgiving. He also got beat on a pair of odds-on favorites for trainer Bill White - the 1-2 Power Rules and 1-9 Repeal - in the first half of the early daily double on successive afternoons. Arrango had a near disastrous spill when he was catapulted 10 feet in the air after Reckless Baby, a mount he picked up the day of the race, broke down during the running of the Nov. 27 finale. Arrango walked away from the spill no worse for the wear, returning to guide the promising Our Champion to victory in Sunday's co-feature on the turf.

Sailing Time

A 3-year-old filly by Unbridled Time, Sailing Time won her second straight race, rallying by the Marty Wolfson-trained duo of Labadeel and Rate of Exchange in last Saturday's main event. Owned by Henry Pace and trained by Steve DiMauro, Sailing Time has posted 87 Beyer Speed Figures in both victories.


Bill White

A perennial leader at Calder, White watched the odds-on pair of Power Rules and Repeal go down to defeat on consecutive afternoons last week. Then he had his 2009 season effectively end after all three barns he occupied were quarantined when it was discovered a member of his stable had tested positive for the herpesvirus. The same holds true for trainers Phil Combest, Vinnie Blengs, and Roger Laurin, all of whom are subject to quarantine regulations because they have horses in a barn that houses three members of White's 42-horse outfit.


Several trainers who had been winless this year finally found their way to the winner's circle last week. That group included Jerry Bozzo, who broke a 55-race winless streak this year when his Smashin Thru upset 1-9 Repeal in last Saturday's opener. Henry Maver Sr., who trains Hurricane Tiger, and Harold Simms, who trains Manakco Star, had plenty to give thanks for after they won consecutive races Thanksgiving Day, snapping 0-for-24 and 0-for-14 losing streaks in 2009. Delmar Martins, who had been 0 for 54 this year, won races on consecutive afternoons last weekend with Scorbit and Spartan General.

Jamie Sanders broke out of a six-month drought when Medaglia D'Onore registered a 45-1 shocker in Sunday's co-featured eighth race. It was Sanders's first win since May 29, when Lawrenceberg won a race here.


Whoever worked Chary over the turf Monday morning. Although the dogs were clearly set out about 30 feet off the inside hedge to protect a course that had been inundated by rain several days earlier, the exercise rider on Chary ignored the cones, opting to drop Chary right on the fence to work six furlongs in 1:16.30. His actions further chewed up an area of the track that has already been hard used since the track opened seven months earlier. Chary was tuning up for Saturday's My Charmer Handicap, which has been postponed indefinitely because of the quarantine.


The main track was definitely speed-biased on Thanksgiving Day, with front-runners dominating the card from start to finish. The lone exception to the trend was Make Me Zack, a Barry Rose-trained horse who rallied from several lengths off the lead to capture the afternoon's feature event, a high-level allowance dash. Other horses who turned in credible performances against the grain of the bias were Broke By Noon, Blues Brother, and Playful Pal.

The turf course was on the soft side when it reopened for business last weekend following several days of rain. As a result, speed horses were blanked on the Nov. 28 and Nov. 29 programs.


Thanksgiving Day offered the opportunity for a couple of value plays later in the card, especially for those sharp enough to realize the track was conducive to speed.

On paper, the sixth race looked like a two-horse affair between Letter's Legacy, whose form had been tailing off of late, and Irish Sport, who is dangerous when loose on the lead. Letter's Legacy was overbet to even-money, and Irish Sport somehow drifted up to 10-1. Once Irish Sport won a three-horse duel for the lead, it was all over, and he cruised to a four-length victory, paying $22.60. Letter's Legacy was never a serious factor.

In the finale, Little Jorge returned from more than a year on the sideline, taking a sharp plunge in company to mid-level conditioned claimers. Not only was he the main speed in the five-furlong dash, he also had come off the bench to win his career debut at Gulfstream last winter at 60-1. Little Jorge's price went to 7-1 in the final two minutes of wagering, and he led throughout for a 2 1/4-length win for trainer Javier Negrette.


Some recent workouts of interest from horses racing on Saturday's program.

* Dare to Double (1st race): Gave every indication she's maintaining her good recent form after breezing an easy half-mile in 49.70, finishing up her final eighth in 12.10 over a tiring course. Looks like the best late threat in a field loaded with speed.

* Iwilldowhatido (2nd race): Equipped with blinkers, showed a good deal of early zip in a Nov. 26 gate work before pulling up after three furlongs. Hard to say whether she'll be able to carry that speed a mile in her debut.

* Mallory Square (2nd race): As with Iwilldowhatido, going a mile will be a tall order for her at first asking. She has shown promise from the gate on several occasions, including Oct. 23, when she finished her final quarter-mile in 24.20 under pressure, a very solid split for this place, considering half-mile gate drills finish up around the clubhouse turn.

* Boleyn (8th race): Wasn't asked for any speed, cruising around a very easy half-mile in 50.16 under jockey Kristi Chapman, a credible run, considering the track was on the cuppy side once again Monday. A former graded stakes placed filly, she is still eligible for a slightly easier, entry-level allowance condition.

Other recent workouts of note include:

* Straight Count: Turned in his second black-letter work since arriving locally last month, going a half in 48.30 and galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.80 over a deep track last Monday for trainer Tim Hamm.

* Baraka's Dream: Showed brief speed while hung out wide from a tough post in his debut. He returned to drill a sharp three-eighths in 35.52, galloping out a half-mile in 47.86 to the seven-eighths pole last weekend.

* Georgian: First-level allowance type looks about ready to return after breezing a half-mile from the gate in 49.75 and galloping out a strong five-eighths in 1:03.23 last Saturday.

* Officersgentleman: Followed stablemate Georgian with an even sharper four-furlong move from the gate in 49.06, finishing his final furlong in 12.79 around the turn before galloping out five-eighths in 1:02.24. He has been idle since January.


Broke By Noon

Trainer: Michael McDonald

Last race: Nov. 26, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/4

Ran against the grain of a speed-biased strip, rallying from well back after breaking slow and checking at the break while negotiating two turns in his career debut. Finished with good energy despite losing considerable ground around the final bend.

Lemon Spice

Trainer: Bennie Stutts Jr.

Last race: Nov. 26, 7th

Finish: 4th by 1 3/4

Although he hadn't started since last winter at Gulfstream, he took considerable action from the moment the betting windows opened. Raced within striking distance of the leaders but didn't have the necessary late punch to close the deal. He looked like a horse in need of a race.

Westwood Pride

Trainer: Joe Catanese

Last race: Nov. 27, 3rd

Finish: 7th by 5 3/4

Good-looking first-time starter was crushed from the moment the wagering began. Then, in an instant, he lost all chance when he broke last in a five-furlong race switched from turf to dirt that lured a full field of 12. Flashed some speed once he recovered but was not overly abused once the cause became hopeless near the end. Obviously, he has some speed and talent and is worthy of a second chance.

Our Champion

Trainer: David Braddy

Last race: Nov. 29, 6th

Finish: 1st by neck

Overcame being shuffled to last down the backstretch, made a five-wide run around the second turn, and won a competitive first-level allowance race on turf. He avenged his previous setback under similar conditions, when he was asked to move prematurely and was bumped soundly near midstretch. Looks like a 2-year-old with stakes potential on the grass.