07/13/2009 11:00PM

Summit Day, by the numbers

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Jim Lisa
Game Face got her first Grade 1 stakes victory in the Princess Rooney on Saturday.

MIAMI - The 2009 Summit of Speed is in the books and singling out the stars is as simple as 1-2-3.

The No. 3 star on the Summit card goes to Dashing Debby for her sensational victory in the J J'sdream Stakes. Dashing Debby dominated the 2-year-old filly dash by 10 1/4 lengths, and she was the only first-time starter or maiden in the field. Her performance immediately caught the eye of owner Jess Jackson, who bought the filly and had her on the way to Saratoga less than 48 hours after she had crossed the finish line.

The No. 2 star belongs to Eaton's Gift, who broke a 14-month winless drought by defeating no less a rival than the reigning Eclipse Award sprint champ, Benny the Bull, in the Grade 2 Smile. Eaton's Gift had started just once this season and had not won since capturing the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs in May of 2008.

But the star of the day was undoubtedly Game Face, who ran the race of her life in the Princess Rooney Handicap and earned her first Grade 1 victory. Game Face cruised home nearly seven lengths in front of pacesetter Keep the Peace, and her time of 1:10.74 for six furlongs over a fast but cuppy racetrack was more than a half-second faster than Eaton's Gift and the rest of the boys posted in the Smile. A daughter of Menifee, Game Face earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure as well as an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November.

Two other performances of note on the Summit card were turned in by the locally based pair of Little Nick and First Passage. Little Nick rallied to a neck decision over the 4-5 turf sprint specialist Mr. Nightlinger in the $150,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Championship Handicap, and First Passage captured the Grade 3 Azalea for 3-year-old fillies.

Little Nick, who had finished an unlucky third in his previous start, tripped out cleanly in the Umphrey to wear down the pace-setting Mr. Nightlinger in the closing strides under leading rider Manoel Cruz.

"He easily could have won his last start but he had trouble in the stretch," said Bill White, who trains Little Nick for Priscilla Vaccarezza and the KZ Stables. "Going five furlongs, you always need a good trip, and there's no room for error if you're coming from off the pace in these types of races."

First Passage likely punched her ticket to the Grade 1 Test Stakes by rallying to a three-quarter-length decision over Kays and Jays in the Azalea to register the only graded win on the day for the home forces.

"Her effort was certainly the high point in a day of highs and lows for us," said trainer Marty Wolfson. "The low being the potentially disastrous incident on the far turn of the Princess Rooney in which our filly Jessica Is Back was forced into the inside rail due to what in my opinion was a dangerous piece of riding by jockey Manny Cruz."

Jessica Is Back bounced hard off the inside fence when put in tight quarters by Cruz, aboard pacesetter Keep the Pace, near the three-eighths pole. Wolfson said Jessica Is Back returned to the barn having grabbed both quarters and with scrapes on her stifles.

The stewards posted the inquiry sign into the incident but after briefly reviewing the films took no action.

Major disappointments on the Summit card, aside from the obvious failure of Benny the Bull to defend his title in the Smile, included the performances of several of the California invaders trying to make the switch from artificial surfaces to dirt. Most notable were Underground, who finished eighth as the 3-2 favorite in the Azalea, and Truest Legend, who was sixth and last after contesting a suicidal pace as the 9-5 second choice in the Grade 2 Carry Back.

Dubai Majesty also performed well below expectations, finishing last of seven after stalking the early pace in the Princess Rooney.

Even Road consistent as they come

Even Road, who has not been worse than second in five starts this season and off the board just once in her last 10 starts, will likely be favored to defeat five other fillies and mares in Thursday's $26,000 feature. The main event will be decided at a mile and 70 yards under optional claiming conditions.

Even Road, a homebred daughter of Stephen Got Even, crossed the finish line first in her first three starts in 2009 only to lose one of those apparent victories via a stewards' disqualification at Gulfstream Park. She has finished second in her only two appearances during the current meet, including the Emergency Nurse overnight stakes when narrowly beaten by the multiple stakes winner Annabill.

* Icon Project, a 13-length winner of the Grade 3 New York Handicap in her first start on dirt, worked a half-mile in 50.20 seconds over a cuppy main track just before the renovation break on Monday. Wolfson said she'll ship out on Wednesday to compete in Sunday's Delaware Handicap.

* Jockey Juan Leyva, who missed most of the first half of the season due to a back injury suffered this winter at Gulfstream Park, has looked none the worse for wear since returning to action earlier this month. Leyva, who served as a jockey agent while convalescing, rode a pair of winners on Sunday's card - longshot Chary for trainer Pete Anderson and favorite Bernie the Maestro for trainer Milt Wolfson.