01/01/2008 1:00AM

Cowboy Cal gets best of stablemate


Following in the same path as another promising young 3-year-old named Barbaro two winters earlier, Cowboy Cal rallied to a decisive two-length victory over stablemate Why Tonto in the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby at Calder.

Cowboy Cal came into the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby off a similarly easy victory in the Laurel Futurity. Barbaro also closed out his 2-year-old campaign winning the Laurel Futurity and began his 3-year-old season with an easy win in the 2006 Tropical Park Derby.

With regular rider John Velazquez aboard, Cowboy Cal stalked the early pace of the locally based Joey the Scholar, gained command midway on the far turn, edged clear, then was not seriously threatened down the stretch. Why Tonto raced in mid-pack down the backstretch, moved to close contention turning for home, and outfinished Cannonball by a half-length to finish second in a full field of 12 3-year-olds.

Cowboy Cal is a homebred son of Giant's Causeway owned by the Stonerside Stable. He covered nine furlongs in 1:46.95 over a firm course and paid $3.40. The victory was his third in as many starts since trainer Todd Pletcher switched him to grass following a seventh-place finish over the main track in his career debut.

Pletcher said there was a good chance Cowboy Cal would continue in Barbaro's footsteps and switch back to the main track for his next start.

"This was certainly a great way to start the year," said Pletcher. "He trained well on dirt before his first start, and if he continues to train well on dirt, obviously we'll try it one more time. Maybe in the Fountain of Youth," on Feb. 24 at Gulfstream Park.

* Bsharpsonata became the new year's first stakes winner when she rallied to a 1 1/2-length triumph over a fast-closing Alwajeeha in the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks. Absolutely Cindy rallied from last to finish another length behind in third.

Bsharpsonata, a 3-year-old homebred daughter of Pulpit owned by Cloverleaf Farm II Inc., was ridden to victory by Eric Camacho for trainer Timothy Salzman and paid $7.40. Like Cowboy Cal, the Maryland invader had closed out her 2-year-old campaign with a turf victory at Laurel, in the Selima Stakes.

Salzman's father, trainer John Salzman, said Bsharpsonata would also likely switch back to the dirt for her next start, Gulfstream's seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes on Feb. 9.