Updated on 09/16/2011 8:12AM

Top pair have to rebound


MIAMI - Elvi Gamble and Flying Birdie have been two of the fastest female turf horses on the Calder grounds this summer. But both turned in disappointing performances in the Irish Vol Handicap here last month, and they will have to prove themselves again in Monday's $40,000 Reign Dance Handicap.

Elvi Gamble was the even-money favorite in the Irish Vol despite returning from a three-month vacation. She chased the pace of Flying Birdie to the stretch and then weakened badly to finish a dull fourth. A multiple sprint stakes winner on the turf, Elvi Gamble will be ridden by Eduardo Nunez for the first time in the five-furlong Reign Dance.

Flying Birdie was unbeatable going five furlongs on turf or dirt a year ago but has tailed off badly after outlasting Elvi Gamble to capture the Marshua's Dancer Handicap at Gulfstream Park on April 14. She sprinted to an easy lead in the Irish Vol but was helpless to fend off the closing bid of the suddenly red-hot Petrina Above, and struggled home second, just a half-length in front of the late-striding Pageant Baby.

Pageant Baby is among the eight other fillies and mares entered for the Reign Dance, although two of those eight, Vague Memory and Alleycat Coat, will run only if the race comes off the grass.

Pageant Baby, turning back from a mile, had to rally from last following a slow start to finish third in the Irish Vol. She again figures to benefit from a fast pace.

The key to the Reign Dance could be Sara's Success, who makes her first start since she finished a troubled ninth in the Calder Breeders' Cup Handicap on May 25. A multiple stakes winner around two turns, Sara's Success has been working bullets for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. in preparation for her return and is another who figures to be coming on strong through the stretch.

Fast Departure still speedy

Old pro Fast Departure showed the youngsters he's not done yet.

Now 9, Fast Departure beat the gate to open an easy lead in Saturday's eighth race allowance and scooted home 2 1/2 lengths the best under jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr.

The win was his second this season and the 19th in 97 career starts for Fast Departure, who is owned by Bart Voloshin and trained by Everton Harris. The victory pushed Fast Departure's career earnings over the $400,000 mark.