06/19/2003 11:00PM

Top sprinters mull shot at Summit of Speed


MIAMI - The $1.7 million Summit of Speed is still three weeks away, but Calder racing secretary Bob Umphrey is already excited about the prospects for what has quietly become one of the biggest days on the summer stakes calendar nationwide.

"We really raised the bar last year and obviously are going to have a tough time duplicating the success we had bringing Eclipse Award winners Orientate and Xtra Heat down for the Smile and Princess Rooney handicaps," said Umphrey.

Still, he spent much of the past month canvassing the major racing circuits from coast to coast, hoping to drum up support for the Summit of Speed.

"But the overall reception I received in California, Kentucky, and New York is the best I've ever had top to bottom," he said. "I think this will wind up our best renewal yet."

The Summit of Speed consists of five stakes, four of them graded, including the $500,000 Smile and Princess Rooney. Both of those purses are up $100,000 from last season. The $300,000 Carry Back for 3-year-olds and its filly counterpart, the $300,000 Azalea, round out the card along with the $100,000 Turf Sprint.

"The extra money added to the purses of each of the four graded races was a major incentive for horsemen to nominate and, hopefully, ship their good horses here for this year's Summit," Umphrey said.

Nominations for the five stakes do not close until Saturday, but Umphrey has high hopes many of the best sprinters in the country will be on the lists when they are released next weekend.

"[Trainer] Scott Lake said he is considering the Smile for Shake You Down," said Umphrey. "And I'm hopeful both Shawklit Mint and Gold Mover will be coming from New York and Madame Pietra from California for the Princess Rooney."

When Shake You Down won the Grade 2 True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard, he got his fourth consecutive victory since being claimed by Lake for $65,000. Shawklit Mint upset Shine Again and Gold Mover to win the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap the next day, for her fourth straight victory.

Gold Mover is the defending Princess Rooney champion, upsetting then reigning Eclipse Award winner Xtra Heat in the Grade 2 sprint last summer.

"There are still a couple of races pending this weekend that could effect the starting lineup for the Smile - the Moseley at Suffolk Downs and the Aristides at Churchill Downs," Umphrey said. "I'll really have a better idea of who might be coming for all the races once nominations close next weekend."

Among the 3-year-olds Umphrey is hoping to see on the nomination list for the Carry Back are Midas Eyes and Halo Homewrecker, while Buffythecenterfold could be among the leading 3-year-old fillies with designs on the Azalea.

Local hopefuls for the Summit of Speed include Built Up, Tour of the Cat, Storm Flag, Crafty Brat, Awesome of Course, and Lawbook.

Gentille Alouette one of the ones in Vivace

A field of eight older fillies and mares, several seemingly trying to punch themselves a ticket into the Princess Rooney, will go seven furlongs in Sunday's $40,000 Vivace Stakes.

Among the leading contenders in the Vivace is Gentille Alouette, who turns back off an easy victory in the one-mile Liberada Handicap on June 1. She likely will have to catch How About It, a speedy and much-improved filly who was no match for the blazing speed of the 3-year-old Storm Flag when returning from a three-month layoff in the Toga Toga Handicap earlier this month.

Four Pennies, Scottish Bubbly, Vision in Flight, Starship Miss, Tchula Miss, and Vague Memory round out the Vivace lineup.