09/26/2013 12:14PM

Florida: Fawkes has top contenders in stakes at Gulfstream, Calder

Tom Keyser
Trainer David Fawkes will have morning-line favorites Millennia (above) and Sola Gratia in the grassy Our Dear Peggy Saturday at Gulfstream.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer David Fawkes will be at Belmont Park on Saturday where he’ll send out his Breeders’ Cup-bound sprinter Bahamian Squall in the Grade 1 Vosburgh. But Fawkes will also be keeping a close eye on what transpires in South Florida, where he is just as live in a pair of stakes that same afternoon, the $100,000 Our Dear Peggy at Gulfstream Park and the $85,000 Birdonthewire just down the road at Calder.

Fawkes will have morning-line favorites Millennia and Sola Gratia in the grassy Our Dear Peggy. The duo finished first and second, a half-length apart, against similar opposition seven weeks earlier in the Ta Wee overnight stakes. Millennia got the best of the matchup that day, rallying from the rear of the field following an unlucky start to wear down her uncoupled stablemate nearing the wire. The win was the first in seven starts this season for Millennia, a 6-year-old daughter of Milwaukee Brew whose best previous performance in 2013 was a fourth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January.

Sola Gratia has been a model of consistency, having finished in the money in five of her six starts this year. Sola Gratia rallied from just off the pace to open a clear advantage in early stretch of the 1 1/16-mile Ta Wee. Sola Gratia could benefit from both the turn back in distance and a six-pound increase in weight for Millennia in Saturday’s rematch.

“The only thing more that I could ask from these two fillies is that they finish in a dead heat for first this time,” said Fawkes. “Both horses have done well since their last starts. It looks like there should be enough speed in there to help both of them, with my only real concern the extra weight Millennia picks up off her last race. But if that’s the price you pay for winning a stakes, I’ll take it.”

Parranda returns from a summer at Monmouth Park, where she won an optional-claiming race and was stakes-placed once in four starts. The stretch-running Parranda might have turned in her best effort in defeat this summer when finishing fifth, beaten just 2 1/2 lengths, in the Grade 3 Matchmaker on July 28.

Diamond d’Oro will make her first start since being transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson, who is always dangerous with new acquisitions. The big question is whether the speedy Diamond d’Oro can handle the stretch to a mile in the Our Dear Peggy after opening her career with a steady diet of sprint races.

Macho Trini will be among the favorites returning to the main track for the six-furlong Birdonthewire, which shares top billing on Saturday’s card at Calder along with its filly counterpart, the $85,000 Cassidy.

Macho Trini opened his career with a pair of victories on dirt, including a three-length allowance win at Gulfstream on Aug. 10. A son of Macho Uno, Macho Trini suffered his lone setback when finishing a tiring fourth in the grassy Calder Turf Dash after running off briefly prior to the start.

“The turf was an experiment because there was nothing else for him, and he didn’t handle it well at all,” said Fawkes. “He’s training nicely but he has to break from the rail and you never want to draw the one post, especially with a young horse. But he’s pretty quick, so he should be able to get in good position comfortably.”

Although Fawkes named Jilver Chamafi aboard Macho Trini, he said Eduardo Nunez will handle the assignment.

“Jilver is also named on horses at Gulfstream on Saturday and has decided to stay over there instead of going to Calder,” Fawkes explained when asked about the rider change.

A field of eight juveniles will contest the Birdonthewire, with New Jersey invader Run for Logistics likely to be favored for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. Run for Logistics is coming off a pair of stakes placings at Monmouth, including a third-place finish behind Dunkin Bend and his own stablemate Yes I’m Lucky in the Grade 3 Sapling.

Only seven 2-year-old fillies are scheduled to contest the six-furlong Cassidy, three of whom are still maidens. Secret Kitten, an easy winner of her first two starts including the grassy Catcharisingstar on Aug. 24, figures to be the heavy favorite, with City in Sky, Pomeroy Angel, and Flutterby likely her chief rivals.