06/12/2009 11:00PM

How's Your Halo saves his best for big races


MIAMI - How's Your Halo has a habit of coming up big when it really counts.

Last winter, How's Your Halo upset odds-on favorite Ikigai in the Grade 2 Richter Scale at Gulfstream Park. Saturday, How's Your Halo rebounded from a pair of setbacks in allowance races to register a convincing four-length victory over the 50-1 Green Vegas in the $75,000 Ponche Handicap.

The Ponche came up the strongest of the four sprint stakes on Saturday's Summit Preview card at Calder. Each event served as a prep for the four graded stakes to be decided July 11 on the track's marquee event, the rich Summit of Speed.

How's Your Halo ($9), who finished second behind Benny the Bull in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint last year, earned himself a rematch with the defending champ in four weeks. A 6-year-old son of Halo's Image, How's Your Halo sat behind a contested early pace, readily overtook American Revolution leaving the turn, and had plenty in reserve to withstand a mild closing surge from Green Vegas. The slow starting Processor's Turf was third. The win was the third on the day for leading rider Manoel Cruz.

How's Your Halo covered the six furlongs in 1:11.09.

American Revolution, who defeated How's Your Halo under allowance Conditions three weeks earlier, faltered badly once relinquishing the lead and finished a tiring fifth. Yesbyjimminy, who never mustered a closing response, finished fourth as the 3-2 favorite.

* Marina Ballerina overcame a nightmarish trip winning the Cool Air Stakes when she returned to South Florida two weeks ago. But she encountered no such problems in the $75,000 U Can Do It Stakes, leading nearly every step of the six-furlong race under confident handling from jockey Paco Lopez to post a 1 3/4-length triumph over Jessica Is Back in a prep for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap. B R's Girl finished third.

Marina Ballerina, a daughter of Outflanker, was transferred to trainer Kirk Ziadie's barn by owner Robert Pastor earlier this season. The win was her third in as many starts at Calder.

Marina Ballerina ($4.60) broke a step slow but quickly recovered and cruised to the lead along the rail with Jessica Is Back taking up the chase midway down the backstretch. The pair raced in that order the remainder of the trip with Marina Ballerina having more than enough in reserve to turn back the runner-up's final challenge entering the stretch.

"She was the speed and had the rail so I thought she'd have the lead," said Ziadie. "She didn't in her last start after getting in trouble early."

Marina Ballerina was timed in 1:10.85.

* Trainer Marty Wolfson and jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan dominated the early portion of the Summit Preview card, winning a pair of stakes, including the $100,000 Unbridled Stakes with the 1-20 You Luckie Mann.

You Luckie Mann, the fastest 2-year-old in North America from a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint in 2008, has learned to harness his speed at 3. After breaking alertly, You Luckie Mann briefly dropped to the rear of the four- horse field, engaged the leaders near the quarter pole, then fought back when headed by Prince Joshua leaving the furlong grounds to prevail by a hard-fought half-length.

You Luckie Mann, a son of Exchange Rate owned by the Kramer Stables, was making his second start in just nine days in the six-furlong Unbridled.

"I normally wouldn't even run a claiming horse back in nine days but it was for $100,000 and he'd been away four months before that and I thought he needed another race," explained Wolfson. "At least he's learned to relax and now I've got four weeks to get him ready for the next one."

You Luckie Mann paid $2.10 and was timed in 1:11.33. He will return in the Grade 2 Carry Back.

* First Passage rallied five wide from the rear of the pack before easily running down Louisiana invader Going to the Sun to post a three-length decision in the $100,000 Leave Me Alone for 3-year-old fillies. Donttellmewhattodo, the 8-5 favorite, rallied belatedly to finish a nose farther back in third.

The victory was the third in four starts in the U.S. for First Passage ($6.40), who is owned by Andrew Rosen. She covered six furlongs in 1:12.54.

"I was worried about two things - the distance and the filly from California," said Wolfson, referring to Donttellmewhattodo. "I thought six furlongs might be a bit short for her and the other filly probably needed a race over the track."

The Leave Me Alone serves as a stepping-stone to the Grade 3 Azalea.