10/14/2009 11:00PM

Calder roundup



Luis Saez

The promising apprentice rider is gone but will not be soon forgotten. Not after posting a five-bagger on last Saturday's card, which followed a hat trick one day earlier. Saez is headed north after winning an incredible 53 races from just 229 mounts in less than two months of work on the local front.

Bill White

The perennial Calder training champion has salted away another title, putting an exclamation mark on an outstanding meet by winning three consecutive races here Sunday and five overall last week. White, whose mantelpiece already contains hardware from 14 previous training crowns, will start horses in five of the seven stakes on Saturday's Festival of the Sun program, including Tillie the Tigress in the $400,000 My Dear Girl and Regis in the Grade 3 Calder Derby.


Some notable track biases had a profound effect on the outcomes of the races here last Saturday and Sunday, with arguably a less severe bias on Monday's Columbus Day card.

Saturday's track was deep and cuppy, especially along the rail where speed horses died a slow death throughout the long afternoon. Among the casualties were Irish Sport, who finished last after contesting the pace from the inside as a 5-2 favorite; Tutor, who drew off to a seemingly insurmountable lead at midstretch after setting a contested pace along the rail before tiring to finish a game third; Sea Mecke, a distant second after being hard-used on the lead along the inside; and More Amour, who finished last despite getting the opening six furlongs in a pedestrian 1:17.18 on the lead along the rail in a mile and 70-yard maiden race.

On Sunday, conditions were just the opposite, with speed dominating the main-track races. The only horse to win a sprint from farther than one length off the lead at the quarter pole was the heavily backed debut maiden winner Carphonic, and she was just two lengths off the pace turning for home before drawing away to a dominant decision. In the finale, Cashmere Kitten rallied from the rear of the pack along with runner-up Nistelrooy of Joy to capture a woeful 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race in 1:54.33.

The track also appeared deeper along the inside on Columbus Day and may have contributed to some of the afternoon's more unexpected results, including victories by a pair of 17-1 chances, Tony Baloney and Puthiminhe'llwynn, over unlucky pacesetters Nervous Marvin and Returned.


Not even a contest in this category - it was the 13th and last race on Saturday.

The fun began when three of the eight original entrants were scratched early in the day by the track veterinarian. The three just happened to be the program favorites and the only horses in the event with any semblance of form to bet on in the bottom-level maiden claimer for older horses.

What was left were five of the slowest horses imaginable, four of whom had been beaten a combined 85 lengths in their last start. The fifth, Keyhole did not finish his last race, which came back on April 3 at Tampa. Combined, the group had made 53 career starts with not a single in-the-money finish among them.

The betting public (all of whom should go straight to Gambler's Anonymous for having played a race like this) somehow settled on Keyhole as the favorite.

There was nothing unusual about the opening half-mile of the seven-furlong race, with the field pretty well bunched in the run down the backstretch and the fractions of 23.16 and 48.02 about par for the category. But then things got ugly in a hurry. Sweetstack eventually emerged from the pack to open a long lead in early stretch before holding off Pleasure Tripp to win by a neck. He paid $6.40 despite having been beaten an average of nearly 22 lengths in his last 10 starts. There was also superfecta betting on the race and the judges had to go back 27 1/2 lengths to get to the fourth-place finisher, Dance Hall Graeme, who completed the ticket even though he was being eased across the finish line.

The final time for possibly the worst race in track history was 1:31.42 (the final three furlongs were run in 43.40), with the winner earning a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 17!


Saturday is the big one. The Festival of the Sun program features seven stakes, including the $400,000 finales of the Florida Stallion series along with the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap, which for the first time this year is a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (even though the Spend a Buck is run at 1 1/16 miles).

The highlight of the afternoon will be Jackson Bend's attempt to sweep the open division of the Stallion series with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile In Reality.


Some workouts worth noting on the Festival of the Sun card:

* 1st race: Three first-time starters, Delightful Nicole, Surround, and Schlossgarten Park, should help get the afternoon off to an interesting start.

Delightful Nicole shows a disturbing five-week gap on her work r sum but has a turn of foot. She reeled off early splits of 11.40 and 11.30 seconds before tiring late in her last gate work. Should need a race.

Surround has been nicely prepared for her debut and was the workmate of Tony Baloney -- an impressive debut winner here Monday -- from the gate on Sept. 20. She finished several lengths behind her promising stablemate that morning under pressure.

Schlossgarten Park has a couple of bullets and will likely be the heaviest played of the trio. Completed her final furlong in under 13 in her Sept. 17 five-furlong gate drill, which is very strong around these parts.

* 4th Race: Rusty Charlie turned in a blazing gate work six days prior to his win here last month and continues to sizzle in the morning, going a half-mile in 47.08 over the main track earlier this week. A key questions is whether he can carry that blazing speed two turns on the grass.

* 6th Race: This may be the most interesting race on the card.

Simplifying comes off an impressive maiden victory and a bullet five-furlong drill in which he coasted to an easy opening half-mile in 48.07 under jockey Manny Cruz before tiring late (final furlong in 13) under pressure.

Mr. Green will be favored but never shows his best speed in the morning.

Peace at Dawn was a very impressive maiden winner, went on the shelf, and has trained forwardly for his return, but faces a tough task coming off a long layoff. Was allowed to coast through an easy opening three furlongs in 37.64 seconds before turning in a 12.50 final eighth around the turn in his last gate work (anything under 13 around that turn out of the gate is above average).

Hear Ye Hear Ye takes the blinkers off for his return to south Florida and turned in an extremely impressive work when going five-eighths in 1:00.47 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.48 over a very deep and cuppy racetrack last Saturday.

* 7th Race: Tillie the Tigress could be a sleeper with the addition of blinkers after zipping a half-mile in 47.94 without urging and galloping out five-eighths in 1:00.44 with the shades on last weekend.

* 9th Race: It just doesn't get any better than 1:41.20 for a mile work over this deep track, and that's the time favorite Jackson Bend posted for his final In Reality prep on Oct. 3. Gives every indication he'll stay the two turns.

* 11th Race: Mambo Meister is probably a little better on turf than dirt, but has looked good in his two local main-track works since returning from a summer campaign up north. Finished strongly in both his Oct. 3 gate work and again when posting a bullet half (last quarter in 24.01 over a very deep track) the following week.


R Slick Fifty

Trainer: Wesley Ward

Last race: Oct. 9, 8th

Finish: 3rd by 9

This young son of Concorde's Tune was bet to 9-5 for his debut but never really had a chance after being unprepared for the start and hopping briefly to break near the rear of the bulky field. He recovered and made a steady run past rivals while hung wide throughout, eventually getting to the attending position turning for home before flattening out from the effort behind a runaway, wire-to-wire winner.

Ladymedaglia d'Oro

Trainer: David Braddy

Last race: Oct. 10, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by neck

This well-bred 7-5 favorite had a nightmare trip from start to finish, ducking in leaving the gate and finishing last of seven. After lagging well behind a pedestrian pace -- six furlongs in 1:17 -- she began to show interest around the second turn but had to take up near the quarter pole and again approaching the eighth pole. She also did not change leads down the stretch. It's a miracle she managed to get within a neck of the winner.

In Your Honor

Trainer: Manny Tortora

Last race: Oct. 11, 2nd

Finish: 4th by 4

Lightly raced 2-year-old was in perfect position just behind the leaders when a loose horse ran into his path midway on the turn, forcing jockey Jose Ortiz to take up sharply and fall back several lengths. He was shut off and taken up again along the rail about 100 yards later. He launched a spirited closing surge to make up a half-dozen lengths in the final furlong but was too far back to menace the winner.