(Edited Calder release)
Herman Heinlein’s 4-year-old homebred gelding Soldier’s Dancer has been a leader in the South Florida turf stakes ranks the last two years, with major victories including the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) and Calder Derby (gr. IIIT) as a 3-year-old last year. On Oct. 18, he will likely rule the favorite in the Miami Mile (gr. IIIT) with Manoel Cruz in the saddle.
A roan/gray son of Lost Soldier, Soldier’s Dancer is trained by veteran Calder-based horseman Dave Vivian. He has made four of his five starts this season at other tracks, most recently winning the $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup at Philadelphia Park Sept. 13. He began the year finishing a strong second to War Monger in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park in late January.
The Miami Mile drew an overflow field of 15, with 12 to start. Don Benge’s 5-year-old Wise River could be a formidable invader shipping in from Kentucky for trainer Clark Hanna with jockey Francisco Torres coming along for the ride.
A son of Belong to Me, Wise River has made one notable previous appearance at Calder, finishing second as an 18-to-1 longshot behind Barbaro in the 2006 Tropical Park Derby. Wise River scored the biggest victory of his career last out winning the Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne Sept. 27.
Centaur Farms’ 5-year-old homebred Gottcha Gold was performing on the national stage at this time last year for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr., finishing second in the inaugural edition of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Monmouth Park after sweeping the Salvator Mile Handicap (gr. III) and Philip H. Iselin Handicap (gr. III) there over the summer.
Gottcha Gold was developed at Calder as a 2-year-old and made his first five starts over the track, and now returns to make his first afternoon appearance there since April of 2006 as the solid favorite in the Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III) with jockey Chuck Lopez aboard, facing nine rivals.
A son of Coronado's Quest with earnings of $909,000, Gottcha Gold is on a different program this fall than last after finishing second in the Salvator Mile and fourth last out in the Philip Iselin Aug. 16. He did not run well on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita early this year when ninth in the Sunshine Millions Classic, but that $1 million race will be run this year at Gulfstream Park and will be Gottcha Gold’s winter season target.
Another high-profile name in the Spend a Buck is Joseph Balsamo and Ted Theos’ 5-year-old gelding Sweetnorthernsaint, on the comeback trail for trainer Leo Azpurua, Jr. with jockey Paco Lopez to ride. Most recently, he finished a close-up sixth on turf in The Vid overnight stakes Aug. 16 after a very impressive victory in the Primal overnight on the main track in his previous start.
A Florida-bred son of Sweetsouthernsaint, Sweetnorthernsaint made national news on the Triple Crown trail in 2006 when he won the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Hawthorne by 9 1/4 lengths, finished seventh as the lukewarm favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) won by Barbaro and second to Bernardini in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico when trained by Michael Trombetta.
$100,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 5, 2:49 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Magic Mecke (FL), 116, Eddie Castro
2. Quistopher (FL), 115, Carlos Montalvo
3. Honest Trip (FL), 112, Dale V. Beckner
4. It's a Bird (FL), 113, Jermaine V. Bridgmohan
5. Soldier's Dancer (FL), 120, Manoel R. Cruz
6. Fair Weather Stan (FL), 115, Javier Santiago
7. Serapi Cat (FL), 111, Wilmer Galviz
8. Mr. Silver (FL), 116, Pascacio Lopez
9. Greycliff Exchange (FL), 112, Ariel Smith
10. A. P. Magic (KY), 114, Juan C. Leyva
11. Wise River (KY), 117, Francisco C. Torres
12. Justin Rules (KY), 113, Charles C. Lopez
AE Marnesia's Big Boy (FL), 112, Javier Santiago
AE How's Your Halo (FL), 112, Juan C. Leyva
AE Rexson's Rose (FL), 112, Phil Teator
$100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III, Race 7, 3:50 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Gottcha Gold (FL), 121, Charles C. Lopez
2. It's a Bird (FL), 117, Jermaine V. Bridgmohan
3. Whos Crying Now (FL), 114, Pedro Monterrey, Jr.
4. Finallymadeit (FL), 119, Eduardo O. Nunez
5. Sweetnorthernsaint (FL), 118, Pascacio Lopez
6. Marnesia's Big Boy (FL), 114, Javier Santiago
7. Dream Maestro (FL), 112, Juan C. Leyva
8. Judiths Wild Rush (KY), 118, Eddie Castro
9. Hal's My Hope (FL), 113, Phil Teator