05/24/2013 1:02PM

Calder: Trickmeister working toward possible comeback in Ponche

Tom Keyser
Trickmeister is being considered for the Ponche Handicap as a possible prep for the Smile Sprint in July.

MIAMI – The local sprint division, which is already loaded with the likes of Trinniberg, Jackson Bend, and Bahamian Squall on the scene, could get even stronger if things continue to progress well with the fragile but extremely talented Trickmeister, who has been in training at Calder with Allan Hunter since early April.

Hunter said Friday that Trickmeister, who has not started since finishing third in the Grade 2 Kelso nearly eight months ago, could possibly launch his 2013 campaign on June 8 in the $75,000 Ponche Handicap. The six-furlong Ponche is the key local prep for the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap four weeks later.

Trickmeister was turned over to Hunter by his owner, the Pegasus Holdings Group, just prior to the opening of the current meet on April 5. He has worked four times since being transferred from trainer Michelle Nevin’s barn at Gulfstream to Hunter, his latest drill an easy half-mile in 47.68 seconds on Thursday. He galloped out five-eighths in 1:01.58.

“Right now the plans are to shoot for the Ponche, although we did fall a little behind schedule this week when having to postpone his latest work from Monday until Thursday due to all the rain and wet track conditions,” said Hunter. “Weather permitting, we’ll work him again sometime next week and then make a decision on the Ponche.”

Trickmeister was an instant star, winning his first five starts, including the Pleasant Colony at Saratoga by 11 lengths. He was purchased privately and transferred from Cindy Jones to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. during the summer of 2010, but chronic foot issues forced him to the sidelines for more than a year. He returned triumphantly in December 2011 with a 5 1/4-length victory in Gulfstream’s Harlan’s Holiday in his lone start at 4, and won just once in 6 tries in 2012, although he finished third in the Grade 2 Suburban and Grade 2 Kelso.

“He still has foot issues and he takes a lot of work around the barn,” said Hunter, who took out his first trainer’s license in 1992. “That’s one reason the owners decided to leave him down here at the end of the Gulfstream meet, because the Calder surface is kinder on a horse with foot problems. Right now, we want to see if he can be a big fish in a small pond, and if he shows us he deserves more lucrative opportunities down the road, we’ll go from there.”

Hunter said the Smile is definitely an option for Trickmeister if he’s able to run well in the Ponche.

“His best distance is really a mile, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities for him at a mile right now so the Ponche is a good spot to get him going again and see if sprinting is something he likes to do,” said Hunter. “We’ll just be looking for a good race from him. He doesn’t necessarily have to win, but it would certainly be a good prep for the Smile if that’s the direction we choose to take.”

Dreaming of Susie at same level

For the second time in 16 days, Dreaming of Susie will attempt to clear her entry-level allowance condition when she runs as the heavy favorite in Sunday’s $28,000 feature.

Dreaming of Susie overcame a slow start and rough trip to hit the finish line nearly three lengths the best under similar conditions on May 10, only to be disqualified and placed second for causing interference through the stretch. Dreaming of Susie, a 3-year-old daughter of Cowtown Cat, is trained by Kirk Ziadie for owner Frank Calabrese.

Ziadie and Calabrese also accounted for the main event here Thursday when Majestic Express rallied to an impressive 9 3/4-length victory in a first-level optional $16,000 claiming race under jockey Antonio Gallardo. Majestic Express was sent off the odds-on favorite after trainer Marty Wolfson scratched morning-line favorite Wickersheim earlier that day.