09/28/2010 12:08PM

Plesa takes advantage of wet weather

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Jim Lisa
Successful Song wins the Judy's Red Shoes Stakes at Calder.

MIAMI – He may have been in the minority, but trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. was one guy who didn’t mind all the rain that fell over Calder Race Course and the surrounding area last week. First of all, Plesa was in New Jersey at the time. Secondly, all that wet weather contributed at least in part to the two stakes wins he posted here Saturday with his up-and-coming 3-year-old tandem of Successful Song and El Kingdom.

With leading rider Luis Saez aboard each, Successful Song rallied from just off the pace to capture the Judy’s Red Shoes Stakes, while El Kingdom deftly slipped through along the rail before drawing away to an even easier victory in the Needles. Both races were originally carded for the grass but due to all that rain were switched to a main track officially listed as good.

Successful Song, a homebred daughter of Successful Appeal owned by Live Oak Plantation, was posting her second consecutive victory, with both wins coming in races switched from turf to dirt.

“The filly hasn’t been on the turf, but I know she can run on dirt, so obviously the surface switch was to her advantage,” Plesa said by phone from Monmouth Park on Monday. “The main thing was to see if she could answer the question of whether she was good enough to beat those kind of horses, and that much she did. The turf is something we still have to explore with her. You really never know how they’ll handle it, until you try them.”

Plesa said he would like to run Successful Song on turf in the Calder Oaks on the Festival of the Sun program here Oct. 16, with a work on grass before then.

El Kingdom is bred for the grass, being by El Prado out of a Dynaformer mare, although all three of his victories have come in races scheduled for the turf but moved to the main track. He won the Donthelumbertrader Stakes over a sloppy strip here in early July.

“I think [El Kingdom] is better on turf than dirt, but the problem is he’s such a big, heavy horse that he has trouble coping with the grass if it’s wet like the last time he ran over it,” Plesa said in reference to El Kingdom’s sixth-place finish in The Vid. “For that reason, I was happy they took the races off the turf here Saturday because had they run, it would have been soft, and he really needs something firmer under his feet.”

Plesa said El Kingdom’s size was just one reason it took him a while before finally coming around.

“The first couple of times he ran, it wasn’t really fair to him because he’s not a precocious horse,” said Plesa, who trains El Kingdom for owners Stephen and Helene Weicholz. “But time and maturity has gotten him where he is now.”

Plesa said he also plans to bring El Kingdom back on the Festival of the Sun card in the Grade 3 Spend A Buck.

Plesa, currently fourth in the local standings with 22 victories at the meet, has a large contingent bedded down at Monmouth Park. Besides his stakes double here Saturday, he also has had a lot of luck of late throughout the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area.

“I’ve had three wins and a second from the last four horses I’ve run at Philly Park and also got lucky and won a race in New York the other day,” Plesa said. “Even though they are only racing two days a week at Monmouth, you’re not racing only two days. You’ve got seven days of racing each week because you also have Philly, New York, and Delaware to choose from.”

No excuses for Trip for A.J.

Trainer Milt Wolfson is still scratching his head over the performance of his 1-5 Trip for A.J., who finished a tiring fourth behind Successful Song in the Judy’s Red Shoes. Trip for A.J. had cruised to three straight easy victories, all against older horses, and had won four straight overall coming into the race.

“I wish I had an explanation for what happened, but I don’t,” Wolfson said. “She came out of the race great, scoped fine, and was kicking the walls down the next day. The only thing I can figure after watching the race over and over again is that maybe the rider moved her a little too soon, but I really can’t even say that’s an excuse.”

Wolfson said he is pointing Trip for A.J. to the Calder Oaks.

◗ The undefeated Awesome Feather worked a mile from the six-furlong pole in 1:44.41 on Tuesday, going off a very fast opening half in 47.70 seconds over the somewhat cupping out racetrack before tiring noticeably and completing his final quarter-mile in 29 and change. Awesome Feather, who has yet to race beyond seven furlongs, will attempt to complete a sweep of the filly division of the Florida Stallion Stakes with a win in the My Dear Girl on Oct. 16.

◗ Big Drama continued his preparations for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint working a half-mile in 47.80 and galloping out five-eighths in 1:00.40 over a fast track Sunday. Trainer David Fawkes said he plans to train Big Drama up to the Sprint over his home base and hopes to be able to breeze Big Drama approximately every seven days, weather permitting, right up to the race.

◗ Mambo Meister, runner-up to Big Drama in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap earlier this summer, headlined Monday’s work tab with a bullet half-mile in 48.40. Mambo Meister recently returned home after finishing off the board in the Presque Isle Mile. He could make his next start in the Spend A Buck.