06/21/2010 11:00PM

Top sprinters expected for Summit of Speed


MIAMI - The big event is still more than two weeks away, although it's certainly not too early to start thinking seriously about the Summit of Speed, Calder's marquee event, which will be held for the 11th time on July 10.

Since it's inception in 2000, the Summit of Speed has evolved into one of the nation's premier racing days and has been a showcase for some of the top sprinters of the past decade. Among the Summit graduates are Eclipse Award winners Benny the Bull, Lost in the Fog, Maryfield, and Orientate, all of whom used the Summit as stepping-stones to their championship seasons. Xtra Heat also competed in the Summit a year after winning her Eclipse.

Although the purses for all four graded stakes have dropped off over the last couple of years, the Princess Rooney has retained its Grade 1 status, while the Smile and Carry Back remain Grade 2 races. The Azalea has carried Grade 3 status throughout its 11-year tenure on the Summit program.

Racing secretary Mike Anifantis said he is not expecting field sizes to be quite as big as in recent years, although he expects plenty of quality in each of the four graded races.

"There is more and more competition for these horses since sprint stakes have become more and more popular around the country in recent years, in part because of what we started down here with the Summit of Speed," said Anifantis. "But I expect all four of our major races to be very competitive."

Among the fillies and mares Anifantis is hoping to lure down for the Princess Rooney are Hour Glass, winner of Belmont Park's Grade 2 Vagrancy in her last start; Dubai Majesty, who captured the Grade 3 Winning Colors by 4 1/2 widening lengths at Churchill Downs on Memorial Day; Grade 1 winner Dr. Zic; and Warbling, whose last south Florida appearance resulted in a career-best performance when she captured Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Inside Information on March 14. The local hopefuls will be led by First Passage, winner of the 2009 Azalea.

The Smile will feature the locally based Big Drama in a field that could include the winners of the previous two editions of the Carry Back, Not for Silver and Golden Spikes. The latter has been idle since the fall and is trained by Rick Dutrow. Other horses on the radar for the Smile are the multiple stakes winners Congressional Page, Cash Refund, and Ez Dreamer.

Among the nominees for the Smile is Mambo Meister, who won the first two graded stakes of the meet, the Miami Mile and Memorial Day Handicap. But Mambo Meister has never run a race at a distance less than one mile. He worked an easy three eighths in 36.20 and galloped out a half in 49.80 on Wednesday.

The Carry Back could mark the local return of D' Funnybone, who began his career at Calder before being purchased privately by his current connections after finishing second to Jackson Bend in the Frank Gomez Memorial in his second start. A son of D'wildcat, D' Funnybone has since gone on to win five Grade 2 stakes, including the Hutcheson and Swale this winter at Gulfstream and more recently the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park.

The Calder-based sensation Pico Slew will be among the top names in the Azalea, with Island Time and Buckleupbuttercup among the other early nominations.

Nominations for the Summit of Speed close Saturday.

Moreno catches fire

Apprentice Angel Moreno enters Thursday's card on a roll after posting a four-bagger on Sunday. The seven -pound apprentice spread the wealth, capturing races for trainers Gillian Andreasen, Daniel Pita, Jerry Bozzo, and Barry Rose. Moreno is firmly entrenched in third place in the jockey standings behind Luis Saez and Manoel Cruz with 27 victories entering Thursday's program.

Despite splitting his stable again this summer between Calder and Monmouth Park, Steve DiMauro continues to hold onto the top spot in the trainer standings. DiMauro enters this week's action sharing the lead with Chris Gatis, with 11 wins apiece. They hold a slim advantage over Bill White and the red-hot Bill Kaplan, each of whom have saddled 10 winners. Kaplan won three races last week, including with 2-year-old first-time starters Cool Vixen and Greatest Dream. All three of Kaplan's winners were ridden by Juan Leyva.

* Ifitwasntfor Texas, a model of consistency all season long for trainer Fred Warren and owner Nancy Loebig, finally broke through with his first stakes victory with a head decision over Chihulykee in Saturday's five-furlong Reappeal. The overnight stakes was the only race decided over a soggy turf course here last week.