11/13/2009 12:00AM

It's a Bird tops Florida Million card

Lone Star Park
It's a Bird looks to regain his early season form in Saturday's Carl G. Rose Classic at Calder.

MIAMI - It's a Bird was among the leaders of the national handicap division earlier this year, Soldier's Dancer has won rich turf stakes on both coasts, and Pashito the Che is among the country's top 3-year-old sprinters. They are three very different types of horses with two things in common. All are talented and all were foaled in Florida, making them eligible to compete on Saturday's Florida Million card at Calder, a program that offers eight stakes restricted to statebreds worth $1.2 million in purses.

Despite having his form tail off during the second half of the season, It's a Bird figures to be heavily favored to defeat six rivals in the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic, which along with its filly counterpart - the $200,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff - are the two richest races on the Florida Million card.

Pashito the Che and Soldier's Dancer may be even shorter prices when stepping postward in the $150,000 Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap and $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup Handicap, respectively, earlier on the 12-race program that also features four stakes for 2-year-olds.

It's a Bird gained prominence after winning the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park, the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, and Grade 3 Lone Star Handicap, all before the end of May. He was third behind Macho Again in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. A 6-year-old son of Birdonthewire, It's a Bird became the center of controversy when subsequently disqualified from the winning purse after testing positive for trace levels of naproxen, an anitinflammatory drug, following the Oaklawn Handicap. The horse's owner, Edmund Gann, is seeking to have the disqualification overturned in court.

It's a Bird has been both overmatched and disappointing in three subsequent starts since his game neck victory over Jonesboro at Lone Star, finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, fifth in the Grade 1 Woodward, and most recently a badly beaten seventh over a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup. It's a Bird was defeated a combined 38 1/2 lengths in those three appearances.

But at or even near his best, It's a Bird towers over his six opponents in the 1 1/8-mile Carl G. Rose, having registered 107 Beyer Speed Figures on three separate occasions in 2009. Only one of the rivals - Too Many Toyz, who earned a 98 Beyer notching his third straight entry-level optional claiming victory three weeks earlier - even approaches that type of number, and he will be taking a major step up in class Saturday.

Trainer Bill Kaplan has three of the seven horses entered in the Carl G. Rose although both Imawildandcrazyguy and Temos' Dream are cross-entered in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup.

Pashito the Che has improved markedly since being switched to trainer Scott Lake's barn after leaving Gulfstream last spring. The son of Flatter has since captured 5 of 7 starts, including Belmont Park's Commemorate and Philadelphia Park's Gallant Bob Stakes in his last two starts. Pashito the Che outgamed Grade 3 winner Custom for Carlos to post a well-deserved nose decision in the Gallant Bob while receiving a 111 Beyer.

Pashito the Che will concede the home-field advantage to his seven foes in the six-furlong Jack Dudley. The field includes Hypocrite, Honey Honey Honey, and Trippbuster, all of whom finished heads apart in that order under allowance conditions here Oct. 16. Little Nick, known more as a turf specialist, returns home off several sharp turf outings up north. Little Nick, whose lone main-track victories have come either over wet or synthetic surfaces, won the Turf Sprint Handicap in his most recent local appearance on July 11.

The injury-plagued Soldier's Dancer has started just four times in 2009 but has certainly made the most of his opportunities, defeating Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up Presious Passion to capture the Sunshine Millions Turf last winter at Santa Anita and successfully defending his title in Philly Park's President's Cup nearly eight months later. Overall, Soldier's Dancer has earned more than $1.4 million for owner Herman Heinlein and trainer David Vivian, although the stretch-runner could find himself at the mercy of what figures to be a soft pace in the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Heath.

Annabill, who dropped a controversial nose decision to Amazing in the 2008 Elmer Heubeck, returns from New Jersey to try to make amends for her heartbreaking setback a year ago. The stewards' decision not to disqualify Amazing for allegedly impeding Annabill in deep stretch remains under appeal by owner-trainer Milt Wolfson, who subsequently sold Annabil privately to her current owner, Kenwood Racing LLC, earlier this spring.

Jessica Is Back will likely be favored to win the Heubeck against a group that also includes Many Kisses, Even Road, One Proud Lady, Bob's Jawbreaker, Sweet Repent, Cat Can Do, and Sweetsouthernqueen.