05/19/2011 12:44PM

Calder: Trip for A. J., Romacaca meet again in Sara's Success


MIAMI – Everybody remembers Dancer’s Image being disqualified from his victory in the 1968 Kentucky Derby after testing positive for trace levels of phenylbutazone. Few remember, however, that he also was disqualified from third and placed eighth for causing interference two weeks later in the Preakness.

Few, that is, except owner-breeder Peter Fuller, who returns 43 years later on Preakness Day with another of his stakes-winning homebreds, Trip for A. J., who will vie for favoritism with recent nemesis Romacaca in Saturday’s $55,000 Sara’s Success at Calder.

Fuller, 88, still campaigns a small string of horses, the best of which is Trip for A. J., a 4-year-old daughter of Trippi who has won 8 of her 17 starts, including six stakes. The last of those stakes victories came at Tampa Bay Downs on April 9 in the Turf Distaff. Trip for A. J. registered her most important and richest triumph earlier this winter when upsetting Gulfstream Park’s 1 1/8-mile Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf for trainer Milt Wolfson.

Trip for A. J., who also has won stakes on dirt, will try to reverse her most recent setback in Saturday’s one-mile Sara’s Success.

Trip for A. J. was handed a 1 1/4-length loss by Romacaca in the Florida Thoroughbred Charities Stakes on closing day at Gulfstream four weeks ago. Trip For A. J. got to the lead between calls near midstretch after rallying off a very slow pace that afternoon, before succumbing to the winner nearing the wire.

Romacaca continues to round back to the form that saw her finish fourth after setting the pace into the stretch last summer at Arlington Park in the Grade 1 Beverly D. for owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Nick Canani. After finishing third as the 4-5 favorite in her 2011 debut at Tampa, Romacaca has rebounded with a pair of victories, including the Thoroughbred Charities in which she overcame a rough trip to defeat the 6-5 Trip For A. J. She will pick up and concede two pounds to that rival off the pair’s previous meeting.

A field of 10 was drawn for the Sara’s Success, and the field includes Musical Romance, who was stakes placed on two occcasions behind Trip for A. J. here last season. The versatile mare returned to the grass for the first time in more than six months when finishing second behind the odds-on Cherokee Queen in the Hollywood Wildcat Handicap in her most recent start April 25.

Sano heads trainer standings

Antonio Sano entered Thursday’s card atop the trainer standings with eight winners. Sano, a 48-year-old native of Venezuela, is a third-generation horseman who won numerous training titles in South America before relocating here in 2009. Sano cracked the top 10 in the standings during both the Calder and Tropical at Calder meets last season, finishing 10th with 22 victories during the Calder session and fifth with 13 winners at the Tropical meet.

Sano’s best horse is the 3-year-old filly Devilish Lady, a four-time stakes winner by Sweetsouthernsaint owned by the Cairoli Racing Stable. Devilish Lady dominated the Jack O’Farrell Stakes here at 2 and Tampa Bay Downs’ Sandpiper in her juvenile finale. She has already won the Gasparilla at Tampa and Gulfstream Park’s Cherokee Frolic in 2011 and is a likely candidate for the Grade 3 Azalea here on Summit of Speed Day.

Boulanger’s daughter rides first race

Gary Boulanger won three Calder riding titles during the mid-1990s before having his career cut short by a life-threatening injury suffered in a spill over the Gulfstream Park turf course during the winter of 2005. Now, his daughter Alexa is attempting to carry on the family tradition.

Alexa Boulanger accepted the first mount of her career here last Thursday, finishing third aboard longshot Ava Run for trainer Easton DeSouza. Boulanger, 20, is a graduate of the Chris McCarron riding school.