Tropical Park Derby, Oaks Top New Year's Day Card at Calder

Tropical Park Derby, Oaks Top New Year's Day Card at Calder
Photo: Jean Raftery
Millenium Storm, winning the Mecke Stakes at Calder on Nov. 30.
Edited release from Calder
The first 'Derby' and 'Oaks' races for newly-turned 3-year-olds on the North American racing calendar will be contested Wednesday, New Year's Day, at Calder Racecourse with renewals of $100,000 companion events on turf.

The 28th running of the Tropical Park Derby (gr. III) drew an overflow field of 14 colts to go 1 1/8 miles and the 16th Tropical Park Oaks attracted 12 fillies at 1 1/16 miles. Calder will race one more day into the New Year, closing on Thurs., Jan. 2.

Gloria Barnett and partners' Millenium Storm posted an 18-to-1 upset in the $100,000 Mecke Stakes here on Nov. 30, the major local prep for the Derby, and the son of Future Storm may be a big price again Wednesday with several fresh challengers. Leading jockey Cornelio Velasquez gets the call aboard Millenium Storm for trainer Bill White.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Nothing To Lose and Carl Bowling and Charles Thompson's Christmas Away will get strong support with jockeys Jerry Bailey and John R. Velazquez, respectively.

Nothing To Lose is a rare Calder starter for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, although his powerful stable was represented here this summer with Orienate passing through to win the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap on his way to an Eclipse Award season.

Nothing To Lose is a homebred son of grass champion Sky Classic and has won his only two tries on turf. He won his debut on turf at Saratoga for former trainer Chuck Simon. Lukas took over in Kentucky and he the colt finished fourth twice. After checking into Gulfstream for the winter, he was shipped over for a winning prep over the course on Dec. 14.

Christmas Away will be making his turf debut for trainer Patrick Byrne, although he finished first and second in his last two allowance starts at Churchill Downs in races forced off the grass.

After winning his career debut at Arlington Park in late August, the son of Skip Away finished second to Lone Star Sky in the $200,000 Cradle Stakes at River Downs on Sept. 2 and fifth next out in the Grey Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Woodbine.

Another interesting prospect will be Bee Bee Stable and Jacqueline Tortora's highly accomplished homebred Supah Blitz making his turf debut for trainer Manny Tortora, who trained both his sire Mecke and dam Boots Œn Jackie through important careers.

Supah Blitz has been campaigning steadily all season, his last six starts in stakes. He won the $150,000 Jack Price Juvenile at Calder on the inaugural "Florida Millio"n program, Nov. 16, and finished a strong second last out in the $263,000 Great State Challenge Juvenile at Sam Houston Park in Texas. Jockey Edgar Prado gets the call.

Completing the 12 in the body of the field for the Tropical Park Derby are Super Frolic, Eibar Coa; Unbridels King, Manoel Cruz; Flank Attack, Jose Santos; White Cat, Mark Guidry; Supervisor, Jorge Chavez; Newsbreak, Rene Douglas; Magic Ruby, Julio Garcia; and Sea Pleasure, Rosemary Homeister, Jr. Don't Be Cruel and Falcon Ten are also-eligible.

La Colmena's Sweettrickydancer has established herself as the leader of her age group here on turf with three straight victories for trainer Rodolfo Garcia and will be the filly to beat in the Tropical Park Oaks with regular rider Eibar Coa.

The Kentucky homebred daughter of Green Dancer found a home on turf after two dull tries on dirt, a surface her trainer says she won't have to race on again. After finishing second in her grass debut here in October, the stretch-running filly reeled off three straight victories, including the $100,000 Hollywood Wildcat over a number of the rivals she will face again Wednesday.

One of the most dangerous of those Sweettrickydancer defeated in the Hollywood Wildcat was Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa's Running Debate, a daughter of Open Forum purchased for $170,000 at the OBS February sales. Jockey Gary Boulanger has the mount.

Trained by Eddie Plesa, Jr., the chestnut showed plenty of promise on dirt, placing in stakes before making her turf debut in the Hollywood Wildcat. While the winner rallied from 10th to score by a length, Running Debate flew from last of 12 to be third.

The most serious of several others in the Oaks that didn't run in the Hollywood Wildcat are M.R. Goetz and partners' Devil At The Wire, trained by Ken McPeek; Edward Somers' Themus, developed locally by Joe Waunsch, and Joseph Graffeo's Stars Go Blue.

Devil At The Wire will have Mark Guidry in the saddle and makes her Florida winter debut after two sharp efforts on turf at Churchill Downs, winning an allowance and just missing when third by a neck in an Œopen' allowance last out on Nov. 17.

Jose Santos rides Themus, a bargain $13,000 OBS April 2-year-old purchase by You and I. Never worse than fourth in seven starts here, she finished first, second and third in as many tries on grass, including her victories last out on Dec. 15.

Steve DiMauro trains Star Go Blue with John Velazquez to ride the daughter of Open Forum, who was an $82,000 OBS February 2-year-old purchase. After finishing fifth in her career debut sprinting in September, DiMauro sent her right into the $400,000 My Dear Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, finishing a distant second to Ivanavinalot. She made only her third start nearly two months later on Dec. 9 and broke her maiden by nearly eighth lengths going long in a race forced off turf.

Completing the field for the Tropical Park Oaks are Fencelineneighbor, Edgar Prado; Spring Mint, Roger I. Velez; Civility Cat, Jorge Chavez; U K Trick, Cornelio Velasquez; Makin Heat, Guidry on a second call; Askforaraise, Marland Suckie; and Lil Scout, Rene Douglas.

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