08/24/2009 11:00PM

Juveniles take center stage Saturday at Calder


MIAMI - The concept wouldn't work at most racetracks, especially at this juncture of the summer. But at Calder, where the 2-year-old is king (and queen), Saturday's Juvenile Showcase program is just what the doctor ordered to pique interest at what otherwise is a slow part of the season around these parts.

Racing secretary Mike Anifantis has put together an outstanding 13-race card consisting exclusively of 2-year-old races on turf and dirt and at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. However, the afternoon's two main events, the $150,000 Affirmed and Susan's Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes, drew only five and seven starters, respectively.

The lack of interest in the seven-furlong Affirmed is understandable, considering the presence of division leaders Jackson Bend and Mr. Green in the lineup. Jackson Bend has moved to the head of the local class after rallying to game decisions in both the Frank Gomez and stakes in his last two starts. His status was further enhanced when his most immediate victim in the Frank Gomez, D' Funnybone, returned to dominate the Grade 2 Saratoga Special last week.

Jackson Bend is trained by Stanley Gold for the Jacks or Better Farm, and that duo could have themselves a big day Saturday as they also send out the odds-on favorite, Hear Ye Hear Ye, in the $100,000 Seacliff.

Sweetlalabye, a steadily improving juvenile filly, returns as the likely favorite in the seven-furlong Susan's Girl. Sweetlalabye rallied to a three-quarter-length victory over a slow-starting Joanie's Catch and pacesetting Myakka City in the six-furlong . New shooters this time around include recent maiden winners Tillie the Tigress and Rosebud's Ridge.

Sweetlalabye blew out for the Susan's Girl on Tuesday, going an easy three-eighths in 37.20 seconds over a wet-fast track, while Mr. Green went a half-mile in 50 seconds about 15 minutes later in preparation for the Affirmed.

The most intriguing and challenging races on the card could be a couple of five-furlong turf stakes, the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash and its filly counterpart, the $100,000 Catcharisingstar. As expected, the Catcharisingstar drew an overflow field, including trainer Wesley Ward's undefeated Girl Bar, who also was cross-entered against the boys in the Turf Dash.

Maiden race runners show promise

While this weekend's Stallion Stakes came up a bit light in numbers, there are a couple of promising youngsters waiting in the wings for a possible shot at the big money in the $400,000 series finale for males, the In Reality, on Oct. 17.

Thank U Philippe and Fly By Phil put on quite a show before finishing first and second, respectively, in a seven-furlong maiden special weight dash Saturday. Thank U Philippe, a runner-up in each of his previous two starts, is a son of Proud Accolade, whom trainer Marty Wolfson has said all along would get better the farther he went.

Fly By Phil, a homebred son of Act of Duty trained by Kathleen O'Connell, has now been narrowly beaten in his only two career outings.

Thank U Philippe received an 84 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance, while Fly By Phil checked in with a career-best 83.

The In Reality is decided at 1 1/16 miles.

It's a Bird drills for Woodward

It's a Bird worked a half-mile in 50 seconds here Tuesday as he prepares for a meeting with Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1 Woodward.

"It will be exciting to see the filly run, but obviously I'd rather not be running against her," Wolfson said. "It's kind of a weird spot for her, but if she's that much of a super horse I guess she'll handle the older colts. I think she's a very good horse, but I'm still not sure if she's a great one, and the fact she's going in the Woodward will certainly not change our plans any."

* The turf was open for workouts Monday, despite the fact that there was no racing over the course the previous afternoon as was the case the previous week. And just like last week, despite the dogs being placed well out past the middle of the strip to protect the course, most riders ignored the cones and drilled their horses either on or near the inner hedge.

The most impressive of Monday's turf workers were Girl Bar (three-eighths in 34.82 seconds over the yielding strip) and Kijo (half in 48.20).

* Apprentice Luis Saez lost two pounds of his seven-pound bug when riding his 40th career winner here Sunday. The victory came aboard Genuine Diamond for trainer David Braddy.

* Sunday's feature was marred when Roman Candles broke down while moving to the lead and apparently on the way to victory in a high-priced optional claiming and allowance race. The 7-year-old Roman Candles won a pair of stakes in 2005 and was a seven-time winner of more than $213,000 during his career. He was trained by O'Connell for owner Robert Valeri.