06/02/2009 11:00PM

Shippers give lift to Leave Me Alone


MIAMI - Nominations were released earlier this week for the four stakes races on Summit of Speed Preview Day here June 13. Except for a couple of intriguing exceptions in the $100,000 Leave Me Alone Stakes, the program will primarily showcase local talent hoping to earn spots in the four graded stakes on Summit of Speed Day four weeks later on July 11.

Among the 13 3-year-old fillies nominated to the Leave Me Alone, which serves as a prep for the Gradeo3 Azalea on Summit of Speed Day, are Donttellmewhattodo, trainer Larry Jones's On the Menu, and the Louisiana-based Going to the Sun.

Donttellmewhattodo is scheduled to ship from California to south Florida on Monday. The daughter of Strong Hope has won her last two starts over the artificial surface at Hollywood Park, earning Beyer Speed Figures of 88 for both impressive victories. On the Menu is already a stakes winner, having captured Monmouth Park's Just Smashing Stakes in her most recent start, while Going to the Sun comes off a 12-length maiden win at Louisiana Downs for which she received a career-best 92 Beyer.

Going to the Sun is trained by former jockey Michelle Lovell, who rode locally under the name Michelle Hanley in the early 90s.

Donttellmewhattodo is trained by Doug O'Neill but will spend her time in south Florida with trainer Marty Wolfson. Donttellmewhattodo is owned by Pablo Suarez and Paul Lo Duca, who have the multiple stakes winner Golden Spikes stabled year round at Calder with Wolfson.

Wolfson also will be represented in the Leave Me Alone by the regally bred First Passage, who captured the Snurb overnight stakes here earlier in the meet. First Passage is a $1.2 million daughter of Giant's Causeway and has won 2 of her 3 starts in the United States following a disappointing career debut last summer in Europe.

The $75,000 Ponche Handicap also closed with 13 nominees, topped by local sprint kingpin YesbyJimminy, Grade 2 winner How's Your Halo, and Americanrevolution who is undefeated at Calder. The Ponche is a stepping-stone to the Grade 2 Smile Sprint.

The Princess Rooney is the only Grade 1 race on the Calder calendar, and the last major local prep for the race will be the $75,000 U Can Do It Handicap on June 13. Marina Ballerina, who overcame a nightmarish trip to win an overnight stakes here last weekend, tops a list of only nine nominees that includes Lady Sprinter and the Wolfson duo of B R's Girl and Jessica Is Back.

The $100,000 Unbridled Stakes for 3-year-olds also lured just nine potential starters, one of whom, Haps Alphabet Soup, could be among the leading contenders in Friday's entry-level allowance feature, carded at five furlongs on the turf. You Luckie Mann and the Kirk Ziadie-trained pair of Biblionico and Sir Edgar are among the other nominees.

"I thought the nominations came up pretty strong for prep races," racing secretary Mike Anifantis said. "The Ponche should come up a great betting race, and at first glance there probably won't be more than a pound or two separating the highweights."

Anifantis said weights for the Ponche and U Can Do It should be released Friday.

Groundbreaking for Calder casino

Officials of Churchill Downs Inc. and Calder Race Course as well as local politicians and representatives of the Florida Division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association took part in official groundbreaking ceremonies Wednesday for a 104,000-square-foot Calder slots casino, to be located adjacent to the grandstand on the southwest side of the building.

The new facility will include three restaurants and 1,225 slot machines. It is scheduled to open in January 2010, just prior to both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, which will be played next winter at Land Shark (formerly Dolphins) Stadium, located less than a mile south of the track.

Among those addressing the crowd at the groundbreaking were Churchill's chief operating officer Bill Carstanjen, Calder president and general manager Tom O'Donnell, and Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson.

"This is a great day for Churchill Downs and reflects many, many years of hard work," Carstanjean said. "We are looking forward to bringing 250 to 300 new jobs to the area and want to thank this community for allowing us the opportunity to make this investment."

Voters in Dade County approved a referendum that legalized slots at the three existing parimutuel facilities in the county in January 2008.

* Renda, who has not raced on grass since finishing 10th after pressing the pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, is among eight fillies and mares entered for Saturday's $55,000 Liberada overnight stakes. The Liberada is scheduled to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the grass. The field also includes the graded-stakes-placed Eclisse, the versatile Awesome Alexandra, and Cat Can Do, whose chances would be greatly enhanced should the race be moved to the main track.