The highlights of Saturday's Festival of the Sun program at Calder, with nine stakes races worth $1.65 million, will take place when 2-year-olds Lawbook and Ivanavinalot lead the fields for the $400,000 In Reality and $400,000 My Dear Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes.
Tommy Heard's Lawbook bids to become the fifth colt to sweep the open divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes in the 21-year history of the event for offspring of eligible stallions standing in Florida. Smile was the first in 1984 and was followed by Naked Greed (1991), Seacliff (1995), and Express Tour (2000).
Veteran jockey Roger Velez retains the mount on Lawbook in a wide-open field of 14 going 1 1/16 miles. The son of Notebook has plenty of experience as he makes his 10th start Saturday, having captured the Dr. Fager and Affirmed divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes in his last two starts.
Gilbert Campbell's 2-year-old homebred filly Ivanavinalot will be a short-priced favorite in a field of eight juvenile fillies set for the My Dear Girl, also at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Kathleen O'Connell, the daughter of freshman sire West Acre has won four of her five starts.
Jockey Manoel Cruz gets the return call on Ivanavinalot, who has made a big impression winning the Susan's Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes by 10 lengths and the Brave Raj Stakes three weeks ago by five lengths in her first start around two turns.
Ivanavinalot has made an impression beyond South Florida racing fans as she has been rated as high as seventh (in a tie) in the "World Thoroughbred Rankings" in the Juvenile Fillies division by an international panel of racing secretaries and handicappers.
Ivanavinalot's near perfect record and chance for a sweep of the fillies divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes is marred only by her fourth-place finish in the Desert Vixen in August when she slammed into the gate and had to be taken up sharply after the start. She obviously didn't have enough time and distance to overcome the trouble in that six-furlong test.
Mike Tarp's Mister Deux and Francis Vitale's Max A Million have shipped in for the In Reality. Trainer Dale Romans has Mister Deux booked on a Tex Sutton charter flight from Louisville today while Max A Million was vanned down from Rockingham Park more than a week ago and has had a workout over the track.
Jockey Jose Santos gets the call on Mister Deux, who was purchased for $190,000 at the OBS February 2-year-old sale. The son of Mister Jolie has only made two starts, winning his debut at Saratoga and finishing a good second in the $200,000 NATC Futurity at Delaware Park on Aug. 31.
Max A Million is a homebred son of second year sire Jules and has made three starts for his owner-breeder-trainer. After breaking his maiden at Rockingham he made two van trips to Monmouth Park, finishing a good third in the Tyro Stakes and a troubled fourth in the Sapling Stakes (gr. III) in his last start Aug. 10. Jockey Eibar Coa gets the call.
Although Lawbook is bidding for a sweep, he likely will vie for favoritism with E. Paul Robsham's Trust N Luck, beaten favorite in the Dr. Fager, Affirmed and last out in the Foolish Pleasure when he finished second to Super Frolic at 2-to-5.
Jockey Cornelio Velasquez rides Trust N Luck for trainer Ralph Ziadie. The $200,000 OBS March 2-year-old purchase was caught by Lawbook in the final strides when second in the Dr. Fager, and then wheeled and dropped his rider at the start of the Affirmed.
Trainer Manny Tortora will send a threesome out in the In Reality with Bee Bee Stable and his wife Jacqueline's Supah Blitz likely his best hope with jockey Jorge Chavez aboard for the first time.
Supah Blitz finished third in the Dr. Fager and second in the Affirmed divisions of the FSS behind Lawbook as both colts try two turns for the first time in the In Reality. Everything about Supah Blitz indicates he should appreciate the two-turn distance.
Tortora trained the colt's sire Mecke to win the Affirmed division of the Florida Stallion Stakes in 1994 early in a career highlighted by victories in the Super Derby (gr. I) and Arlington Million (gr. IT), retiring with earnings of $2.5 million.
Supah Blitz‚ dam is Boots 'n Jackie, who raced for the same connections and won the 1992 Susan's Girl and My Dear Girl before the daughter of Major Moran went on to finish third behind Eclipse champion Eliza in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park that fall.
Tortora ranks second on the all-time list of trainers with Florida Stallion Stakes victories with nine, including a sweep of the open divisions in 1994 with stablemates Sea Emperor and Mecke.
Leading the Florida Stallion Stakes division winner list is Frank Gomez with 12, including the sweeps by Smile and Naked Greed, and is also Calder's all-time trainer of winners with more than 1,200 victories.
Gomez will be represented in Saturday's renewal of the In Reality by Annabel and William Murphy's homebred The Name's Bond with jockey Jerry Bailey accepting the mount. The son of Jules finished a well-beaten third in the Affirmed behind Lawbook and Supah Blitz and was fourth last out in the Foolish Pleasure.
Completing the field for the In Reality are Nelson Bunker Hunt's Fort Smith, Manuel Aguilar; Rodney Lundock's Supervisor, Manoel Cruz; Peter Vegso's Freedom Lane, Jose Ferrer; Paul Denes and Buckingham Stable's Magnetic Storm, Julio Garcia; Leprechaun Racing's Wild Magic, Eduardo Nunez; C T Stable's Flip And Stu, Carlos Gonzalez; Jim Little IV's Admiral Lance, Abel Castellano, Jr.; and Kinsman Stable's Patriotic Flame, Rosemary Homeister Jr.
Ivanavinalot will be odds-on in the My Dear Girl and has rather easily defeated most of her major rivals in the Susan's Girl and Brave Raj Stakes. J D Farm's Dakota Light rallied for second, beaten four lengths in the Brave Raj and may have the best chance for an upset if Ivanavinalot has a bad day as she did in the Desert Vixen.
Trained by David Brownlee, homebred Dakota Light is a daughter of Colony Light and should find her best stride in two-turn races. The Brave Raj was only her third start. She broke her maiden going seven furlongs on Sept. 1. Jockey Julio Garcia will be in the saddle.
Another contender in the My Dear Girl is Michael Sherman's stakes veteran Heavenly Miss with Eibar Coa aboard. Trained by Angel Salinas, the homebred daughter of Suave Prospect won the open J j'sdream Stakes early in the meet and lost a head decision to Richlyn Farms‚ Fortunate Card in the Desert Vixen.
Heavenly Miss then finished a well-beaten second to Ivanavinalot in the Susan's Girl and fourth to that rival in the Brave Raj. She has raced on, or close, to the pace in each of her races since the J j‚sdream. Salinas has indicated that he wants her tried from off the pace in the My Dear Girl.
Fortunate Card makes only her fourth career start after winning the Desert Vixen and finishing third in the Susan's Girl. Trained by Henry Collazo, the $20,000 OBS April 2-year-old purchased finished second by a nose in her debut prior to the Desert Vixen. Jockey Sebastian Madrid gets a return call.
Completing the field for the My Dear Girl are Joseph Graffeo's Stars Go Blue, Gary Boulanger; Peter Lawson's Pitch A Penny, Eduardo Nunez; Richard Weiss‚ Miss Delia, Cornelio Velasquez; and James Lewis, Jr.'s Endless Pleasure, Jorge Chavez.