11/25/2010 1:34PM

Marcello has serious rebound potential


MIAMI – There is no stakes racing at Calder on Saturday. It will be the last Saturday without a stakes race in south Florida until the spring.

The local stakes calendar features six graded stakes spread out over the remaining month of the meet leading into the opening of the Gulfstream Park session on Jan 5.

Saturday’s card, while devoid of any stakes action, does feature a pair of allowance races topped by the featured 11th, which is scheduled to be run at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf under second-level optional claiming conditions.

Topping the lineup is the Grade 3 stakes placed 3-year-old Marcello who began his career with trainer Bob Baffert before moving on briefly to Wayne Catalano and ultimately into his present quarters on the local backside with trainer Marty Wolfson.

Marcello finished second in the Garde 3 Generous Stakes on the grass for Baffert at 2 and was also stakes placed on turf earlier this year. But he has started only twice since March 6, one of those outings as the pacesetter in the Grade 2 American Derby at Arlington Park

Marcello disappointed in his only previous try for Wolfson, fading badly to finish far back last month in the Calder Derby. He has worked well ever since and is expected to bounce back with a big performance on Saturday.

A couple of northern-based horsemen who have fared well during the Tropical meet over the years will send out a couple of key contenders in the race. Graham Motion brings in the Grade 3 stakes-placed Bear’s Rocket, who he claimed for $25,000 this summer at Saratoga, while Cam Gambolati counters with Tactical Weapon.

Bear’s Rocket is a familiar name to Florida fans, having briefly put himself on the Kentucky Derby trail during the winter of 2009 after finishing second in Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Holy Bull and sixth behind Musket Man six weeks later in the Tampa Bay Derby. A son of Lion Heart, he has fallen on hard times ever since, although showed a little renewed life with a pair of second-place finishes since moving to Motion’s barn off the claim.

Other key contenders in the main event include the consistent Nineinthenine; Strong Star, who will add blinkers for the occasion; the speedy A Centurian; He’s Alright; Grand Cash; and Ducduc.

◗ Mambo Meister worked a half-mile in 50 seconds and galloped out five-eighths in 1:02.80 over a fast track here Wednesday. Mambo Meister is among the nominees for next Saturday’s Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap, although he is also under consideration for the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap to be run over the main track the following weekend.

◗ The racetrack was sloppy and the work tab limited here Thanksgiving morning. Among those who did breeze was Wolfson’s Grade 3 winning long-distance specialist Speak Easy Gal, who went an easy half-mile over the wet track in 51.80 seconds. Speak Easy Gal, third after forcing the pace in Keeneland’s Dowager Stakes in her last start, is among the nominees for Saturday’s Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap although is probably more likely to be held out until the following Saturday for the 1 1/2-mile Grade 3 La Prevoyante.