Saturday's 11th Florida Million Day at Calder offered eight stakes totaling $1 million in purses for Florida-breds and the highlights included an easy victory by Cash Rules and successful title defenses from My Pal Chrisy and Bad Debt.Larry Fugate's Cash Rules brought a three-race stakes winning streak into the $150,000 Carl G. Rose Classic and left the starting gate as the overwhelming 1-5 favorite versus four rivals following the scratch of Megamove. The five-year-old gelding went straight to the front with Luis Saez when the gates opened and was never seriously threatened en route to a 1 1/2-length decision, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:54 on the fast track.
Cash Rules, who established easy early splits of :24 1/5, :49 and 1:14 4/5, posted his fifth overall stakes score. The David Fawkes-trained bay started his current win skein in the August 11 Band is Passing Stakes and then captured the September 1 Darn That Alarm Handicap and the Grade 3 Spend a Buck on October 13. The son of Peace Rules has earned $364,641 from a 15-7-3-2 career line.
He's Spectacular took second, nine lengths better than Decaf Again in third, and Kings Over and Imperial Czar came next under the finish line.
Bred by Fugate, Marshall Novak and Suzanne Novak, Cash Rules is out of the stakes-placed Silver Buck mare Cindys Sonnet and comes from the immediate female family as Grade 2 victress Vacumette as well as Grade 3 scorers Thunder Regent and Distinct Reality. Other ancestors include 1953 champion two-year-old filly Evening Out and 1940 Belmont Stakes runner-up Your Chance.
Tony Investments LLC's My Pal Chrisy easily defended her title in the $150,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap, rallying from far back to win by a commanding 7 1/4 lengths. The four-year-old filly posted a 9-1 upset in the 2011 edition of the 1 1/16-mile race and bettors were reluctant to embrace her chances once again this year, allowing the Padarath Lutchman trainee to start as the 6-1 fifth choice among eight rivals. She received a perfect ride from Luca Panici, sweeping four wide to lead off the far turn following early fractions of :23 2/5, :47 2/5 and 1:13 3/5, and her final time was a very respectable 1:47 2/5.Flying Trip finished a well-beaten second, edging 2-1 favorite Successful Song by a nose, and it was nearly another length back to Callmethesqueeze in fourth. Hooh Why, Cool Vixen, Delray Lady and Redbud Road completed the official order of finish, and Speak Easy Gal was scratched.
A daughter of Alex's Pal, My Pal Chrisy recorded only her second win since last year's Heubeck, capturing a starter allowance in July, and improved her overall ledger to 31-8-4-3, $375,068. The three-time stakes heroine has also placed in three stakes, including the Grade 3 Azalea in 2011.
Out of the winning End Sweep mare Honeymoon Sweep, My Pal Chrisy was bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc.
Robert Leibner's Bad Debt proved to be a popular back-to-back winner in the $125,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup, scoring by a hard-fought neck as the 4-5 favorite. Trained by Michael Trombetta and ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, the five-year-old gelding split rivals in deep stretch to gamely prevail in a four-horse battle to the finish line. Runner-up Speak Easy Gal wound up a nose ahead of third-placer Alley Oop Oop, who was in turn a neck better than Picou in fourth.
The Best Glacier, Nineinthenine, Stay Red and Roman Tiger completed the order of finish.
Bad Debt was never far back while rating in midpack behind early splits of :24 2/5, :49 3/5 and 1:14 1/5, and accomplished 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:49 4/5.
The bay has recorded both of his career stakes wins in the Bonnie Heath and also owns a pair of stakes placings. Second versus turf allowance/optional claiming foes at Belmont Park in his previous outing, Bad Debt increased his bankroll to $520,065, from a 34-13-9-6 record, with Saturday's payday.
By Grand Reward, Bad Debt is out of the unraced Pleasant Tap mare Pleasant Ring, a full sister to multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner Pleasant Chimes and a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 hero Freefourinternet. This is also the female family of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Life at Ten; and multiple Grade 2 winner and sire Chimes Band. Bad Debt was bred by Pennston Farms.
Samuel H. Rogers Jr.'s homebred Close It Out closed with a rush to prevail in the $125,000 Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap, nailing runner-up Bahamian Squall by a neck in the final strides. The four-year-old rallied from last to first beneath Jose Lezcano, who notched his third win on the Florida Million program, and scored as the 8-1 fourth choice among 10 runners.
It was the first tally for the Steve Towne charge, who had placed in six previous black-type events, including a third in this summer's Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap. His scorecard now reads 24-6-5-7, $310,381. The Closing Argument gelding benefited from a fast early pace Saturday, with opening splits in :21 2/5 and :44 4/5, and finished six furlongs in 1:10 3/5.
Bahamian Squall, the 5-1 second choice, wound up 2 1/4 lengths clear of 4-5 favorite Bull Dozer in third. Golden Mystery, Black Diamond Cat, Dual Exhauzt, Cajun Breeze, Off the Jak, Abdel's Ghost and No Lift Shift followed under the wire.
Close It Out is out of the winning End Sweep mare Honeymoon Sweep.
The $125,000 Jack Price Juvenile kicked off Florida Million Day and Brave Dave proved to be a popular winner, leading wire to wire as the 1-5 favorite. The dark bay two-year-old son of Put It Back registered his third straight stakes score, following tallies in the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth Park and September 29 Birdonthewire at Calder, and completed seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5 with jockey Paco Lopez.Owned by David Melin and Laurie Plesa, the Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Brave Dave sprinted to the fore at the start, establishing a pressured pace in :21 4/5 and :44 3/5, and led by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining. But runner-up Sr. Quisqueyano, the 7-2 second choice among six contestants, made the winner work hard late to secure a one-length decision. Sr. Quisqueyano wound up 3 1/2 lengths clear of third-placer Uptown Anthem, who was followed by Beach Master, Trip N Run and Too Fast to Pass.
A debut winner at Calder, Brave Dave sustained his lone career setback when fourth in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga and has now earned $226,100 from four starts. The colt is out of the Songandaprayer mare Sing That Song, a full sister to stakes victor and Grade 2-placed Bee Cee Cee, and he was bred by Melin, Plesa and Bea Oxenberg.
Lopez came right back to win the second event, the $125,000 Joe O'Farrell Juvenile Fillies, aboard Eric J. Wirth's homebred Crumb. The dark bay daughter of Graeme Hall posted her first stakes victory when rallying past Lavalette Gold in deep stretch to score by a length. She left the starting gate as the 5-1 third choice among six runners.
The Larry Bates pupil finished seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5, .16 seconds faster than Brave Dave. Lavalette Gold held second by a half-length over 37-1 longshot Dreamlicious, and R Free Roll, who established splits of :22 2/5 and :46 1/5 before faltering, wound up fourth. Toasting and Candy Coded Kisses rounded out the order of finish. Cindys Casino, E B Ryder, Perfect Stoli, Putyourdreamsaway and Swinger's Party were all scratched.
Crumb has made all four career starts at Calder, winning at first asking before a second versus entry-level allowance rivals and a fast-closing third in the September 29 Cassidy Stakes. With Saturday's $75,000 payday, she increased her earnings to $113,600. The filly is out of the unraced Gold Legend mare Legendary Hit and counts multiple stakes heroine Cher Ami as a half-sister.
Gilbert G. Campbell's homebred Kanturk Kid rallied strongly from off the pace to get up by a neck in the $100,000 Arthur I. Appleton Juvenile Turf, notching his first stakes triumph in the process. The Kathleen O'Connell trainee took advantage of a contested pace battle up front, edging fellow late runner Hardrock Eleven in the final strides, and stopped the teletimer in 1:43 1/5 for 8 1/2 grassy furlongs.
Lezcano piloted the winning gelding, who was overlooked at 9-1 among 10 starters following a pair of placings versus entry-level allowance rivals, and the chestnut two-year-old improved his record to to 4-2-1-1, $90,850. Hardrock Eleven easily held the place by a length over third-placer Thunder Calls, and next under the wire came 4-5 favorite Reporting Star, Silver Day, Decisive David, L's Ticket to Ride, Southern Tier, Joshua's Comprise and Dad'z Laugh.
Kanturk Kid is by Act of Duty and hails from Cozzene Along, a daughter of Cozzene. The broodmare is out multiple Grade 1 winner Ms. Eloise and counts Grade 3 winner Bibury Court and multiple stakes queen Princess Eloise as half-sisters.
Sunshine Thoroughbred Corp.'s homebred Nicki's Starshine recorded her first stakes tally in authoritative style when taking the $100,000 John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf by 3 1/4 lengths. After rating off the early action, the Bill White-trained lass began to advance on the far turn but temporarily had to steady behind a wall of rivals. She finally got free when a seam opened up along the inside as they straightened into the stretch, with Lezcano adeptly guiding the two-year-old filly through the opening, and Nicki's Starshine quickly kicked clear. The dark bay traveled 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:43 2/5 as the 4-1 second choice.
Verso a Verso, the 8-5 chalk, claimed second, a neck better than third-placer I Ain't Gonna Lie. Filling out the order of finish in the 11-horse field were I Know It All, Cotton Pickin, Cupids Messenger, Cindys Casino, Swinger's Party, Capriccio Blue, Majestic Marquet and Bama Rose.
Nicki Starshine recorded her first win over maiden claimers in her second career outing and finished third in the Brave Raj Stakes in her lone previous stakes attempt. She has also placed twice against entry-level allowance foes. Out of the winning Eskimo mare Etatria, the Milwaukee Brew filly improved her line to 6-2-1-3, with $90,950 in earnings.