07/15/2003 11:00PM

Summit was a smashing success


MIAMI - Last Saturday's $1.75 million Summit of Speed program was an unequivocal success. The 13-race card was one of the best in track history and the combined mutuel handle of $10,541,440 set a Calder record, marking the first time the track had surpassed $10 million on a single card.

But Calder president Ken Dunn really knew the Summit of Speed had arrived that evening when he turned on ESPN and saw the results of the Princess Rooney and Smile Sprint handicaps being displayed alongside the day's other sports events on the crawl at the bottom of the screen.

"I don't think we've ever had that happen to us before," Dunn said. "They [ESPN] usually only give horse racing results for major races, such as the Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup."

In just four short years the Summit of Speed has carved a niche for itself on the summer racing calendar and Dunn is confident the event will only get bigger and better from here.

"It's really easy to get excited about what happened here Saturday," said Dunn. "The combination of the response we got locally, both from our customers and the media, as well as around the country, was great and really gave us a chance to put our name on the map.

"I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to continue to make this event grow, hopefully to the point some day where we can take it to the level of our signature event, the Festival of the Sun, and can bring 15,000 fans out here at the track one Saturday each summer the same way we do every fall."

Valid Video impressive

There were heroes aplenty and a few major disappointments on the Summit of Speed card.

Baby Shark and Gold Mover repeated in the Rocket Man and Princess Rooney Handicap, respectively. Smile winner Shake You Down proved he is a legitimate contender for leadership of the sprint division and a horse to be reckoned with come Breeders' Cup time. And Joe Bravo put up a couple of perfect rides to win two of the four graded stakes on the card, aboard New Jersey invaders Joe's Son Joey in the Turf Sprint and Valid Video in the Carry Back.

Valid Video's performance might have been the most impressive of the day considering his final time of 1:10.15 for six furlongs was just .12 of a second slower than Shake You Down needed to win the Smile. Not bad for a 3-year-old making only the eighth start of his career. Trainer Dennis Manning said he is now considering the Amsterdam at Saratoga for Valid Video's next appearance.

Vision in Flight top local performer

Among locally based horses, the number one star was Vision in Flight, a 64-1 shot who gave 3-2 favorite Gold Mover all she could handle before losing by a nose in the Princess Rooney.

"It was really tough to get beat after coming so close but I couldn't be happier with the way she ran," said Marty Wolfson, who trains Vision in Flight for owner Martin Cherry.

The Princess Rooney marked the graded stakes debut for Vision in Flight, a 4-year-old filly who was still struggling to win her first-level allowance condition as late as mid-March.

"Going into the race I'd have said finishing third would have been just fine," said Wolfson, who won the Princess Rooney in 1995 with Miss Gibson County and again the following year with Chaposa Springs. "When you think she was still a maiden 3-year-old in December it's amazing how far she's come. To run like that was remarkable."

Other local performances of note came from Storm Flag and Crafty Brat, second and third, respectively, behind Ebony Breeze in the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup; Super Fuse, a fast-closing third in the Carry Back; and Callthesheriff, a game second at 22-1 in the Turf Sprint.

The California contingent was the major disappointment on Saturday's program. Buffythecenterfold never threatened following a slow start as the 9-5 favorite in the Azalea; King Robyn was a tiring fourth as the 5-2 second choice in the Carry Back; and Echo Eddie finished ninth as co-second choice in the Smile.