09/08/2011 10:53AM

Calder stakes filled with question marks


MIAMI – There will be several key questions to answer when handicapping Saturday’s $55,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes at Calder. Such as: Will the race stay on the turf as scheduled? Will Motovato actually return and race on one week’s rest? Who will make the pace if Motovato doesn’t start? And, what do you do with Picou?

Turf racing has been almost non-existent here over the past five weeks with only eight grass races having been contested at Calder since Aug. 1. And with the threat of showers a daily occurrence in south Florida at this time of year, the status of the course could remain in doubt right up to post time for the Our Dear Peg. .

Motovato, who finished fifth beaten more than a dozen lengths over a sloppy track as the 1-5 favorite in the Darn That Alarm Handicap here last Saturday, was a surprise entrant in the 1 1/8-mile My Dear Peggy. Motovato has never started on turf and it would seem the only way trainer Marty Wolfson would even consider running the multiple stakes winner back on such short rest is if the Our Dear Peggy was to be switched to a fast main track.

If Motovato does not start, the pace figures to be a slow one. Nineinthenine and Tannersville are the only horses among the eight other member of the lineup who have been on the early lead in a race this season.

Tannersville is a versatile sort who can handle both turf or dirt, but trainer Henry Collazo said he would much prefer to run the graded stakes winner over the grass on Saturday. Tannersville was an easy winner of a high-level allowance race over the local turf course by 2 1/2widening lengths on July 29 for his lone tally of the season. He was also second, beaten a half-length by Flatter This, in the Band Is Passing Stakes, which was switched from the grass to the main track on Aug. 13. Flatter This returned to dominate the Darn That Alarm by 6 1/2 lengths last Saturday.

Collazo said the horse he fears the most in the Our Dear Peggy is Picou, who has not started since finishing eighth in the Grade 2 Dixie nearly 16 months earlier. Picou returned to trainer David Fawkes’s barn less than two months ago. He spent the second half of 2009 and the early portion of 2010 with Chad Brown before going to the sidelines due to a back issue.

“I originally had Picou, but the owners decided to leave him with Chad after I took him up to Saratoga to run in the Hall of Fame during the summer of 2008,” said Fawkes.

Picou won ungraded stakes for Brown at the Meadowlands and Tampa before being sidelined.

“I’ve had him back a little over a month, he’s training well, and I think he’s pretty fit,” said Fawkies. “He may not need a race, although I am concerned about the lack of pace in this field because he has none, either. I also doubt I’ll run him if the race comes off.”