06/11/2007 11:00PM

Upset puts Nacascolo in line for Umphrey


MIAMI - A year ago, trainer Manny Azpurua orchestrated a major upset on Summit of Speed day when his stretch-running longshot Nightmare Affair outfinished Pomeroy and Weigelia to win the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap.

Nightmare Affair, who went on to finish third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Azpurua have since parted company. But the veteran horseman figures to have a say in at least one of the races on this year's Summit of Speed program with Nacascolo, who all but sewed up his spot in the $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Handicap with his 1 1/4-length upset of 3-5 favorite Lord Robyn in Sunday's $50,000 Heckofaralph Stakes.

Nacascolo, a 6-year-old son of Rahy, vied for the lead along the hedge from the outset of the five-furlong Heckofaralph before facing a strong challenge from Lord Robyn around the final bend and through early stretch. But in the end, it was the 8-1 Nacascolo who proved the stronger of the pair, edging away convincingly in late stretch under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez.

The victory avenged Nacascolo's previous setback, a troubled third-place finish behind Lord Robyn in the Reappeal Stakes four weeks earlier. The win was the sixth in 38 starts for the homebred, who is owned by the Nacascolo Stud.

Lord Robyn also is expected to wheel back in the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint, a race named after the late Calder racing secretary who died suddenly on the final day of the 2005-06 Tropical meeting. The turf dash is one of eight stakes races on the Julyo7 Summit of Speed card, highlighted by the $500,000 Smile Sprint and Princess Rooney handicaps.

Azpurua also figures to have one of the top candidates for the $100,000 JoJ'sdream Stakes for 2-year-olds that day - the undefeated Yonagucci, who won her only start by 8 3/4 widening lengths over a sloppy track on June 2.

Stolen Prayer set for Princess Rooney

Stolen Prayer also all but guaranteed herself a slot in the starting gate for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney following her one-sided, 4 1/2-length triumph in Sunday's $50,000 Ema Bovary Stakes. The win was the second straight overnight stakes tally for the 4-year-old Songandaprayer filly, who has quickly vaulted herself to the top of the local filly and mare sprint division for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.

Izzie's Halo works for Carry Back

Trainer David Fawkes's top Summit of Speed candidate, Izzie's Halo, breezed a half-mile in 48 seconds Monday as he continues to prepare for the $300,000 Carry Back Stakes on July 7. The son of Halo's Image was an impressive three-length allowance winner in his local debut May 21.

Apalachian Thunder back in action

Apalachian Thunder returned to the races for the first time in 19 months in Monday's seventh race. The son of Wekiva Springs was a stakes-caliber sort when racing around here during the summer and fall of 2005, when he won an overnight stakes and finished third in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap.

Apalachian Thunder came back to the races for trainer Bill White, competing under a $10,000 claiming tag, but still performed like the stakes horse he was prior to the long layoff, setting fractions of 22.36 seconds and 44.86 en route to an easy 7 1/2-length victory over seven overmatched rivals. Not surprisingly, Apalachian Thunder had a new home after the race, going to trainer Wesley Ward in a six-way shake.

Turf course open for works

The turf course was open for training Monday for the first time in nearly a month. Six horses took advantage of the opportunity, including Fawkes's stakes winner Flying Circle, who went three furlongs in 35.40 seconds, and Ward's pair of Indian Ashton (half-mile in 48 seconds) and True and True (five furlongs in 1:00.80). Flying Circle and True and True will meet in Saturday's $50,000 No Winking Stakes, a prep for the $100,000 Distaff Turf Spring Handicap on Summit of Speed Day.