04/21/2006 11:00PM

Two new multi-stakes cards added


MIAMI - Racing secretary Mike Anifantis will have big shoes to fill when the long racing season at Calder Race Course begins Tuesday. The 2006 Calder meet runs through Oct. 15 and will be followed immediately by the Tropical at Calder session, which continues until Jan. 2, 2007.

Anifantis replaces Bob Umphrey, Calder's racing secretary for 12 years who died of a heart attack on closing day in January. Umphrey left behind an impressive legacy that included Calder securing its first Grade 1 race, the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, part of the increasingly popular Summit of Speed program that Umphrey instituted in 2000.

"This will definitely be a challenge and obviously wasn't anything I was expecting," said Anifantis, who had served as assistant general manager at Calder since 2001. "But I'm looking forward to the experience. Bob did a great job with the graded stakes program, getting us to the point we're at today, and I see no reason why we can't build even further on that tradition. It's a long meet and the number one goal will be to fill races and put out the best product we can on a daily basis."

The $1.8 million Summit of Speed on July 15 again highlights the 112-day Calder meet, which also includes the $1.6 million Festival of the Sun on Oct. 14. Anifantis has also added two new multiple stakes days to the summer schedule, Extreme Day on July 22 and Turf Sprint Championship Day on Aug. 5. Extreme Day will be highlighted by the $250,000 Bob Umphrey Handicap at two miles on the grass. Turf Sprint Day will offer a pair of new stakes, the $250,000 Turf Sprint Championship and Distaff Turf Sprint Championship handicaps.

Calder will alter its racing schedule during the summer, going to a three-day-a-week format from July 21 through Aug. 25.

"The three-day schedule is an experiment," said Anifantis. "But we plan to give away the same money during those three days as we would have during a regular five-day schedule with the hopes that in the long run we'll be able to maximize both purses and starters per race."

Anifantis has already visited horsemen in California and plans similar trips to Kentucky and New York in the coming weeks to sell his stakes program.

"The reception in California was fantastic," said Anifantis. "Everybody knows about the Summit of Speed now."

Among the horses Anifantis is hoping to bring here this summer is sprint champion Lost in the Fog, who was an easy winner of the Carry Back Stakes on the 2005 Summit of Speed card.