07/04/2013 2:35PM

Calder: Smile Sprint shapes up as scramble for Breeders' Cup Sprint berth

Tom Keyser
Trinniberg will look to regain his good form after two sub-par performances to launch his 2013 campaign.

MIAMI – Stanley Gold sounded more like a horseplayer than a trainer who will send out two of the leading contenders when talking about Saturday’s $350,000, Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder.

“This is one deep, solid field, probably one of the best I’ve seen around here,” Gold said. “There certainly is nobody who looks like a standout, like the horse we have to beat. It’s a great race from a spectator’s standpoint and with a strong field like this, they should get Grade 1 status for the race next year.”

Gold will send out two-time Grade 1 winner Jackson Bend and Grade 1-placed Fort Loudon in the six-furlong Smile, which is again a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Trinniberg, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and reigning Eclipse Award champion, will carry high weight of 123 pounds against a lineup that includes Grade 1 winner Swagger Jack, Grade 1-placed Justin Phillip, Apriority, Trickmeister, Bahamian Squall, Close It Out, and Black Diamond Cat.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

Trinniberg has finished far back in both starts since his three-quarter-length victory over The Lumber Guy in the 2012 Sprint that sewed up division honors for him. Trinniberg was 11th in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in Dubai and more recently seventh in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Sprint. But trainer Bisnath Parboo is confident his champion can bounce back with a big effort over his home course on Saturday.

“He’s trained really well and is doing 100 percent better since he returned from Kentucky,” Parboo said. “He got very agitated and extremely washed out due to some activities in the barn area the night before the [Churchill Downs Sprint] and that might have compromised his chances in his last start. With his speed, I really think the fact he’s drawn the outside post is a big advantage since he’ll be able to see what everybody else is doing and can stay out of trouble.”

Parboo also will send out Off the Jak, upset winner of the Sunshine Millions Sprint this winter and more recently fourth in the Grade 2 True North at Belmont Park.

Jackson Bend, winner of the Grade 1 Forego and Carter Handicap when with trainer Nick Zito earlier in his career, is on the comeback trail after being briefly retired to stud last winter due to the effects of a freakish training incident last summer at Saratoga. Jackson Bend, who began his career at Calder when going undefeated as a 2-year-old for Gold, finished an even fifth making his 2013 bow in the Ponche Handicap.

“He’s definitely sharper and tighter going into this race than the last one and should move forward,” Gold said.

Gold also had Fort Loudon shipped back to his barn from Zito for the Smile. Gold sent Fort Loudon out to upset Trinniberg in the Grade 3 Carry Back on the 2012 Summit of Speed card. He then shipped to Saratoga, where he was beaten a nose seven weeks later in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

“I’m confident both horses will run big, but it’s inevitable in a big field like this, some horses are going to get the worst of the traffic,” Gold said. “Hopefully it won’t be us.”

Swagger Jack returns to south Florida for the first time since upsetting the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 6. In his most recent start, the stretch-running Swagger Jack was a troubled seventh in the Grade 1 Met Mile.

“If this race was seven furlongs, I don’t think he could lose,” trainer Marty Wolfson said of Swagger Jack. “But six is a little short for him.”

Justin Phillip makes his local debut off a second-place finish behind the freakish Fast Bullet, who led throughout en route to an impressive victory in the True North. Justin Phillip took a run at the winner nearing mid-stretch, proved no match, but was easily second best in the race for the second year in succession. Justin Phillip narrowly missed becoming a Grade 1 winner last summer at Saratoga when beaten a neck by Poseidon’s Warrior in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt.

Apriority has returned to familiar surroundings in the barn of trainer Dave Fawkes after having only modest success in three starts earlier this year on the West Coast. Grade 3 winner Apriority will break right next to his younger brother Bahamian Squall. Both homebreds are owned by Donald Dizney.