From Calder Race Course publicity department:
The $200,000 Calder Derby (gr. III) leads the schedule of seven stakes races worth $850,000 to be run on the undercard of Calder's $1.65 million Festival of the Sun program Saturday, the richest day of Thoroughbred sport on the Florida calendar.
The $400,000 In Reality and $400,000 My Dear Girl finale divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes series are the signature events, but will be surrounded by a full schedule of supporting features.
An overflow field of 16 3-year-olds was entered for the Calder Derby at 1 1/8 miles on turf and a trio of New York shippers would appear to have a significant advantage over the local runners in the division. Only 12 will start.
Trainer Randy Schulhofer may have the favorite in a wide-open test in William Sorokolit Sr.'s Union Place with jockey Eibar Coa aboard. The Florida homebred son of Out of Place finished a very good second last out to Finality in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park on Sept. 22 after setting all the pace.
However, Union Place hasn't won a race since capturing an allowance at Gulfstream in late January. He has been close-up in the Lexington Stakes at (gr. IIIT) at Belmont and the Hall of Fame (gr. IIT) at Saratoga in other good efforts.
Finishing fifth in the Jamaica, but a very accomplished runner, is Live Oak Plantation's Miesque's Approval, trained by Bill Mott and to be ridden by Jerry Bailey. The homebred son of Miesque's Son finished second in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine, won the Pilgrim at Aqueduct and just missed when second in the Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park as a 2-year-old.
Miesque's Approval didn't make his 3-year-old debut until June at Belmont, losing a half-length decision in the Hill Prince. In two more starts before the Jamaica, he easily won the Kent Breeders‚ Cup (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park and finished fourth in the Saranac (Ggr. IIIT) at Saratoga.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends a third New York shipper in Anstu Stable's Youghal Bay, a Florida-bred son of Mecke purchased for $300,000 at the OBS February sale, with jockey Jose Santos getting the call.
Youghal Bay will be making his stakes debut in the Calder Derby in just his seventh career start, all this year. He has finished a close-up second in two races on turf at Belmont Park, but also handles the main track, winning an allowance at Saratoga on a sloppy track.
The Calder-based sophomores are led by Sez Who Racing's The Judge Sez Who with leading rider Cornelio Velasquez aboard.
Trained by Milt Wolfson, the homebred son of Judge T C makes his fifth straight start in a Derby after spending the summer on the road. His four forays yielded a victory in the Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) at Remington Park, second in the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) at Mountaineer, third in the Ohio Derby (gr. III) at Thistledown and fourth last out in the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs.
The big question for The Judge Sez Who will be his ability to handle turf. He has tried the grass only once, finishing a respectable fourth in an overnight handicap here last November. He was entered in the Tropical Park Derby (gr. III) on New Year's Day, finishing second after that race was taken off turf.
Completing the body of the field for the Calder Derby are the entry of Say No Maw and Susie‚s Poker, Island Skipper, Z. Frere, Mother's Halo, Tammany Star, Class of Seventy and Bog Hunter.
Four of the 11 3-year-old fillies entered in the $200,000 Calder Oaks have shipped in for the 1 1/8 mile test on grass, but will find a formidable defender of the home turf in Bitterroot Investments' Cellars Chiraz.
Cornelio Velasquez gets the return call for trainer Bill Cesare. The homebred daughter of Kissin Kris emerged as a division leader early this year with three straight stakes victories at Gulfstream, including the Herecomesthebride (gr. III).
She has made three trips out of town for stakes engagements this year, finishing second in the Edgewood at Churchill Downs, a good fifth behind Dublino and Megahertz in the American Oaks (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park and second last out in the Pucker Up (gr. III) at Arlington Park. She did fit in local stakes victories in the Office Queen and Convenience Stakes at home between road trips.
Her most dangerous rival Saturday would appear to be Haras Santa Maria de Araras' Maliziosa, trained by Bill Mott and to be ridden by Jerry Bailey. The daughter of Dynaformer won the Edgewood over Cellars Shiraz at Churchill in early May.
Since then, she won the Summertime Promise at Hawthorne Park, finished seventh in the American Oaks behind Cellars Chiraz and was unplaced in the Lake Placid (gr. IIT) at Saratoga and Garden City Breeders‚ Cup (gr. IT) at Belmont.
Completing the field are Something Ventured, Sierra Lady, Once Around, Redoubled Miss, Go Helen Go, Spark Sept, Romancin Dixie, Just Scarlet and Stormy Frolic.
Next on the Festival‚ day stakes menu is a trio of $100,000 stakes events with the winners of each last year back to defend their titles, including Mike Ryan's Texas Glitter, who returns from New York for trainer Todd Pletcher for the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint.
Jerry Bailey gets aboard the 6-year-old son of Glitterman in a field of eight going five furlongs on turf. His major rivals will be Cindy and Ron Stengel's 3-year-old Royal Lad and Alter Racing Stable's 4-year-old filly Flying Birdie.
Bea Oxenberg's 6-year-old Best of the Rest returns from a layoff to face seven rival 3-year-olds and up in the $100,000 Spend A Buck Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Eddie Plesa, Jr. the son of Skip Trial was good last year when he won this race and Jerry Bailey has gotten the call.
Bailey appears likely to have a big day, even if his mount doesn't win the rich Florida Stallion Stakes final. The Hall of Fame rider won the $100,000 Shocker T. Handicap last year aboard Town and Country Stable's Coolbythepool and she defends her title in a field of seven fillies and mares drawn for the 1 1/16 miles test.
Two new stakes races added to the program this year are the $75,000 Birdonthewire for 2-year-olds and the $75,000 Cassidy for 2-year-old fillies, both at six furlongs. They will be run as the first and third races, respectively, on the 13-race program.
Jacks or Better Stable's Hear No Evil and CT Stable's Super Fuse were two of the more impressive juvenile colts seen in individual performances at the meet and lead a field of seven in the Birdonthewire.
Lucky Lavender Stable's undefeated Lavender Lass should rule the favorite in a field of seven 2-year-old fillies entered in the Cassidy Stakes. Trained by Bill White, the daughter of Skip Trial has been impressive winning both of her starts.