07/01/2011 2:39PM

Calder: Sassy Image to supplement to Princess Rooney

Tom Keyser
Sassy Image will ship to Calder for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap.

MIAMI – Once upon a time, invaders dominated Calder’s premier event, the Summit of Speed, as locals continuously watched the big money leave town year in and year out since the inception of the popular series in 2000.

But things turned around for the home forces last summer. Calder-based horses swept all four of the graded stakes and six of the seven stakes races on the Summit card, the lone exception being Tahoe Warrior’s victory in the $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint. Trainer Marty Wolfson orchestrated two of the four local victories in the graded races, taking the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap with Jessica Is Back and the Grade 2 Carry Back with Coffee Boy’s upset of the 1-9 D’ Funnybone. Big Drama used his win in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap as a precursor to his ultimate victory three months later in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, while the speedy Pica Slew captured the Grade 3 Azalea.

To keep that trend alive, the locals will have to face and defeat some pretty formidable opposition that is expected to arrive here during the week for the 2011 Summit of Speed. Among them are Grade 1 winner Sassy Image, who must be supplemented at a cost of $4,000 to enter the Princess Rooney, and This Ones for Phil, a one-time Calder resident who will be returning to his roots for the Smile.

Trainer Dale Romans confirmed Friday his intention to supplement Sassy Image to the six-furlong Princess Rooney. A multiple graded stakes winner around two turns as a 2-year-old, Sassy Image tailed off during her 3-year-old campaign but returned to prominence earlier this spring after upsetting odds-on Hilda’s Passion in Churchill Downs’ Grade 1 Humana Distaff.

“We did some minor throat surgery on her when she was down in Florida this winter, and that seems to have turned her around,” Romans said.

Sassy Image followed her victory in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff by turning back to six panels to prove a game and popular winner of the Grade 3 Winning Colors in her last start.

“A little more distance might be better for her, but she ran fast on the Sheets in her last start going six furlongs,” Romans said. “This race fits perfectly for her schedule-wise as we may just wait and go right to the Ballerina at Saratoga from here.”

Romans also was relieved when learning that Hilda’s Passion, among the 10 original nominees for the Princess Rooney, would not be coming down for the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who nominated horses to three of the four graded stakes on the Summit card, said Friday it was unlikely he’d be bringing anything in for the day.

Among the other fillies and mares expected to ship in for the Princess Rooney are Champagne D’Oro, Cosmo Girl, Derwin’s Star, and perhaps Irish Gypsy for trainer Bob Baffert.

Trainer Rick Dutrow nominated both This Ones for Phil and stablemate D’ Funnybone, who also began his career locally as a 2-year-old, to the Smile, but said Friday he intends to bring only This Ones for Phil down for the race. This Ones for Phil finished a distant second behind Trappe Shot over a sloppy track in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 11.

“I don’t think he was into the wet track last time,” Dutrow said. “He really prefers a fast track.”

Dutrow, who said Javier Castellano would ride This Ones for Phil on Saturday, is no stranger to success in the Smile. His Benny the Bull won the event to close out his perfect Eclipse Award-winning campaign in 2008.

Apriority and Churchill Downs invader Noble’s Promise will likely vie for favoritisim along with This Ones for Phil in the Smile.