04/24/2010 12:00AM

Casino adds spark to Calder opener


Calder Race Course will usher in a new era on Sunday when the track opens for its 40th season of racing but first ever in conjunction with its brand-new slots parlor and poker room.

"It will be exciting to have all aspects of our business in play simultaneously for the first time," said John Marshall, Calder's general manager and vice president of racing.

Calder will again conduct two consecutive meets, the first to run 101 days through Oct. 17, with the 51-day Tropical meet to begin Oct. 21 and continue until Jan. 3, 2011. Racing during the Calder meet will be held on a four-day-a-week basis, Thursdays through Sundays, with a few exceptions. A fifth day is to be added during the Tropical session. Post time is 1:10 p.m. Eastern daily.

The Calder meet will again be highlighted by the rich Summit of Speed on July 10, which is highlighted by the $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, the only Grade 1 race on the schedule, as well as the Grade 2, $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap. As usual, 2-year-old racing will be a major focus again this season. Some of the top 3-year-olds in the country began their careers last year at Calder, including Blind Luck, D' Funnybone and Homeboykris.

"It is a pleasure for Calder to showcase one of the country's best programs for 2-year-olds again this year," said Marshall. "Calder is also fortunate to be in a stronger starting purse position compared to prior years."

Calder will broadcast its simulcast signal in high-definition this year for the first time.

The meet will get off to a quick start, with Sunday's opening day program highlighted by the $100,000 Miami Mile, a Grade 3 race that has attracted a field of 11, including four from trainer Marty Wolfson.

Jet Propulsion, winner of the 2009 Miami Mile for trainer Dan Hurtak, was haltered by Wolfson for $50,000 out of a win at Calder in December. He returned quick dividends by capturing the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park six weeks later.

Mambo Meister, a stakes winner on turf and dirt, Pleasant Strike, and Pinkney Hill are also key contenders.