05/23/2008 11:00PM

Plesa goes to bench for stakes


MIAMI - Under normal circumstances, Monday's Memorial Day Handicap would have been a worthy highlight to the holiday program - a Grade 3 race that was to have attracted the likes of Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile runner-up Gottcha Gold.

But these are not normal times at Calder, which has seen recent purse cuts to both the overnight races and the stakes program as a result of a disagreement between horsemen and the track's owner, Churchill Downs Inc., on account-wagering revenue. The Memorial Day Handicap has become the first noteworthy casualty of the deadlock, as its $100,000 purse was reduced to a mere $36,000 and its graded status relegated to a thing of the past.

As a result, trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. wasted little time putting Gottcha Gold on a van for Baltimore, where the colt finished second in last week's Grade 1 Pimlico Special.

Plesa will still saddle a pair, outsiders Rehoboth and Notgonagetemtoday, in the 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day, although it will be the speedy Finallymadeit who figures to be the favorite and horse to beat.

Finallymadeit is no stranger to stakes success, having won a handful of sprint stakes here as a 3-year-old in 2007. But the speedy son of Concerto has also shown some ability to stay a distance of ground, which he did when second behind Imawildandcrazyguy in the mile and 70-yard Sumter Stakes on May 4.

The new shooter in the Memorial Day lineup is be D'artagnans'spirit, another horse whose best efforts have come around one turn. D'artagnans'spirit will return to the main track after finishing seventh following an eventful trip in the Turf Sprint Handicap here on April 26, a race from which Hero's Reward and Blue Pepsi Lodge have already returned to win stakes races earlier this month.

Finallymadeit and D'artagnans'spirit are also no strangers to one another, having finished a neck apart, in that order, in the 6 1/2-furlong Radar Love Stakes at Calder last fall.

Notgonagetemtoday and the stretch-running Rehoboth finished a distant third and fourth behind Finallymadeit in the Sumter.

Charlie Papa wins Cool Air again

Charlie Papa successfully defended her title in the $36,000 Cool Air Stakes when registering a one-length victory under jockey Sebastian Madrid in a roughly run first race on Saturday. The victory was the first for Charlie Papa since she put the finishing touches on a seven-race win streak by capturing the 2007 edition of the Cool Air. Charlie Papa is trained by Connie Kendall.

The win was the first of two on the day for Madrid, who lost a hat trick on Saturday when he was disqualified from a first-place finish aboard Timely Wonder in the eighth race.

Rain leaves mark on Blazing Sword

Delightful Kiss's comeback on Saturday didn't come off quite as planned by trainer Pete Anderson. First, his race, the $36,000 Blazing Sword Stakes, came off the grass because of a sudden downpour that struck as the horses were being brought up to the paddock. Then the stretch-running Delightful Kiss, winner of the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and Grade 3 Iowa Derby in 2007, finished a distant second behind the front-running Aly's Wheat ($19), who took advantage of the surface switch to win the one-mile race by 5 1/2 lengths under jockey Wesley Henry Sr. for trainer Ralph Ziadie.

It was the first start for Delightful Kiss since he finished off the board as the favorite in the West Virginia Derby on Aug. 4, 2007.

Pick-three bettors also took it on the chin after the Blazing Sword was switched to a sloppy main track. Turf specialist Croton Road was a heavy favorite in the pick three that ended with the Blazing Sword, but he was never a factor over the wet track.