The Flying Pidgeon Handicap, at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, annually draws a good field and this year is no exception. Ten horses passed the entry box for Saturday's $100,000 race at Calder Race Course, including graded stakes winners Band Is Passing, Marquette, Mr. Pleasentfar, and Profit Option. Stanley Ersoff's Band Is Passing is the highweight at 119 pounds and will have the services of leading jockey Cornelio Velasquez.
Ersoff also bred and trains Band Is Passing and he seems to always have the horse well-placed. The 6-year-old son of Pass the Line runs infrequently; his last race--the Miami Mile Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III)--was 5 1/2 months after his previous start at Gulfstream, and he won it impressively by two lengths over highly-regarded Pisces. A consistent sort, Band Is Passing sports a lifetime record of 12-7-3 from 28 starts and has earned more than $712,000. Ersoff has done a remarkable job with the horse who has had his share of minor problems during his career.
Marquette is an intriguing prospect who doesn't seem to have regained the form he had when winning the Hall of Fame (gr. IIT) at Saratoga in 1999. However, he has a win over the course and distance of the Flying Pidgeon this season and is coming into the race off a five-furlong main track outing on Sept. 15. Myra Mora has been training the 6-year-old son of Spectacular Bid for most of the summer for owners J.R. Cavanaugh and Early Morning Farm. Abad Cabassa Jr. will ride.
Raising Dust Stable's Mr. Pleasentfar returns after a 7 1/2-month layoff after being eased in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) in his last start. The Brazilian-bred horse won this race last year during the Festival of the Sun when trained by Marty Wolfson. He has been preparing for his return with trainer Herman Wilensky. Jockey Jeremy Beasley gets the mount on him for the first time.
Trainer Kenneth Hoffman brings Profit Option back to Calder, where he was victorious last year during the Tropical meet in one of the most prestigious races of the season, the W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT). That race was actually Profit Option's last victory. He has competed in graded turf route races at Gulfstream, Keeneland, and Churchill Downs since, but has not finished better than third. Gary Boulanger has the riding assignment.
Completing the field for the Flying Pidgeon are Phi Beta Doc, Jose Ferrer; Please Me Doc, Rosemary Homeister, Jr.; Doowaley, Abel Castellano, Jr.; Swift Replica, Manuel Aguilar; Link to Jimmy, Julio Garcia; and Zloty, Carlos Gonzalez.