Jul 09, 2010
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: John Piesen
THE HEAT IS ON
No surprise to find out that your sports pages, front pages, TV and radio and the internet are saturated this morning with the boffo news coming out of south Florida.
And the staff here at "johnpiesen.com" is no different.
Of course, we are talking about the annual Summit of Speed, a seven-stakes extravaganza Saturday afternoon at Calder Race Track in southwest Miami
As the name suggests, the Summit of Speed consists of seven consecutive triple-digit stakes races, none longer than six furlongs, starting with race five, the $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Handicap for 3-and-up at five furlongs on turf, and extending through race 11, the $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, a Grade One for fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main.
Let's take a look...
New York-based rookie trainer Rudy Rodriguez, seeking to become the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams, takes his act on the road for a rare time. A month back, Rudy claimed another TW, the 7-year-old gelding Tahoe Warrior, from Linda Rice out of a winning Belmont turfer for $20,000, with the Umphrey in mind. The four-legged TW sheds nine pounds off that conquest, gets Prado, and will take some catching from the one-hole in a field of nine. It's been a long time 'tween drinks for Chihulykee, the 116-pound topweight, but the 6-year-old gelding has hit the board in his last seven starts. The chestnut is by Mr. Greeley, the sire of Flawless. Milt Wolfson runs an uncoupled entry of Peace at Dawn and Bernie the Maestro, the only 3-year-olds in the lineup.
Remember Stanley Gold? Gold is the veteran Florida-based trainer who campaigned the 2-year-old Jackson Bend to a 6-for-7 record last year...only to see the owner give the colt to trainer Zito. Well, Gold has another potential star juvenile in Awesome Feather, a filly who, back on Derby Day, won her debut by six lengths. She will look to repeat as the favorite in the $100,000 J Js Dream, a 5 ½-furlong test for 2-year-old fillies. Three of the nine fillies hail from the Kaplan barn -Greatest Dream, Cool Vixen and Pretty Extravagant, all first-out winners. Delightful Dawn, a fast-closing second at 31-1 in her debut, is the only member of the field not exiting a maiden victory over the track.
Little Drama, Big Drama's baby brother, had a nightmare trip for second as the favorite in his debut, and may go favored under Coa in the $100,000 Gomez Memorial for 2-year-olds at 5 ½ furlongs. Gold runs the uncoupled entry of Grande Shores and Alley Oop Oop, under jockeys Trujillo and Sanchez, respectively, Prince of Danger a rail threat from Howie Tesher, yes that Howie Tesher, in the field of eight.
Pica Slew, a 10-length winner of the Leave Me Alone stakes here a month back, is the speed from the outside under jockey Cruz in a field of eight in the $150,000 Azalea for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Buckleupbuttercup was beaten mere four lengths in the Acorn, a Grade One at Belmont. She goes back to Leparoux, her rider when she won the Eight Belles Stakes on Derby Day at Churchill.
D'Funnybone, a six-time stakes in nine starts for Dutrow and Pompa, the connections of Big Brown, will be a short price in a short field under Prado in the $200,000 Carry Back for 3 and up at six furlongs. Five were entered, but this may wind up a three-horse race since Bernie the Maestro and Peace At Dawn likely will opt for the Umphrey. Coffee Boy and Dream of Atlantis were heads apart in the Unbridled. Mention of Carry Back reminds us that John Sellers, who was up for most of CB's memorable victories, including the Derby, back in the early '60s, passed away last week at age 70. John stayed in the business, primarily as a bloodstock agent, and was a fixture through the years at the Florida tracks. He seemed like a real good guy.
Big Drama is 5-for-6 at Calder, his only blemish an unjustified DQ in the '09 Swale Stakes. He'll be favored under Coa from post 10 in a field of 13 (before scratches) in the $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, a Grade Two for 3-and-up at six furlongs. Mambo Meister earned a triple-digit number winning the Memorial Day Handicap by eight lengths, and is 3-for-5 with jockey Cruz. Congressional Page scratched from a Monmouth stake for this spot; first-time Albarado. The Toddster ships Go Go Shoot for the red-hot Team Repole, and jockey Cohen gives up a possible lucrative day at Belmont for the call. Taqqarub dangerous bomber with Prado. He exits a Maryland stakes victory; runner-up Roaring Lion won a Monmouth stake last weekend.
Trainer Baffert will try to steal the Princess Rooney with recent purchase Mother Ruth, a last-out seven-length winner of her stakes debut in the Valid Expectations at Lone Star. Albarado rides from psot five in a field of nine. Jessica Is Back returns to earth after chasing Rachel at Churchill. Saratoga Tango
completes the uncoupled Marty Wolfson entry. The Toddster looks for a sweep of the big-money stakes with Hour Glass, who came down the rail to win the Vagrancy at Belmont. Cohen, 4-1-0 in six rides on HG, has the return call. Why no Dominguez at Calder? Simple. He's staying home at Belmont to ride Gio Ponti in the $600,000 Man 'War, a Grade One for 3 and up at 1 3/8 miles on the grass. The double-Eclipse winner will be 1-5 from the outside in a field of eight.
GP, the defending champion, will be a popular single in the Pick Four and Pick Six although it's been 11 months since he last won a race.
Midwest jock Lenclud, the subject of a feature on this venue last January, will make his New York debut on the late-running Bearpath, who will be pulling six pounds from Gio Ponti.
Gio will be one of four odds-on favorites in major stakes across the land. The others will be Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks, Rail Trip in the Hollywood Gold Cup, and Trappe Shot in the Long Branch at Monmouth Park.
If they held a Pick Four composing these four stakes, we'd be looking at a $15 payoff.
Thanks for tuning in. Don't forget to check out the red-hot JP Hot Line (888 612 2283), and our compelling full-page ad (page 19) in the current issue of American Turf Monthly,
Good luck this weekend, and see you back here on Tuesday.
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