The fall/winter Tropical-at-Calder meet is revving up with the first winter arrivals from the north coming in daily in the weeks ahead. Saturday's features are the $60,000 Lulu's Ransom Stakes and $60,000 Fabulous Frolic Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and colts, respectively, at one mile on turf.
The companion events are expected to point out leading contenders for the $100,000 Hollywood Wildcat and $100,000 Mecke Stakes to be run on Dec. 1 for fillies and colts, respectively, at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
The Hollywood Wildcat and Mecke will be the first of 16 stakes events worth $100,000 or more to be run during the final month of the Tropical meet, racing through Jan. 2. Mystic Lady, trained by Mark Hennig, was a romping winner of the Hollywood Wildcat last year with Mr Notebook capturing the Mecke.
Phil Combest's Ms Brookski tops the Calder-based nominees for the Lulu's Ransom. Trained by the owner's father, veteran horseman Reed Combest, the daughter of Montbrook finished a good second to Blissful Kiss in the rich My Dear Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes last out on Oct. 13.
Three of the 14 nominees for the Lulu's Ransom are trained by horsemen based in New York, but are beginning to send some of their runners south for the winter. Trainer Bill Mott, traditionally a big supporter of the Tropical stakes program from Payson Park, nominated Bruce Lunsford's Global Vision for the Lulu's Ransom.
A daughter of Spinning World, Global Vision broke her maiden on turf at Belmont Park and finished second to highly regarded Lujien Lujien over the Belmont course on Oct. 12 after a fourth-place outing in the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine.
August Moon Stable's August Storm, trained by Linda Rice, won the Prom Stakes on grass at Meadowlands in her turf debut. Trainer Todd Pletcher nominated Dogwood Stable's Whitewashed, a daughter of Broad Brush who captured her lone start on turf at Belmont last out on Oct. 19.
Pletcher also has a possible contender for the Fabulous Frolic in Jubilee Stable's Southern Fleet, a chestnut colt by Southern Halo. The Virginia-bred won his only start on turf at Belmont on Oct. 18 after finishing unplaced in a main track sprint at Saratoga.
Another major player nominated for the Fabulous Frolic is Thompson Stable's Carey's Gold, who suffered the first loss of his career when third in the Florida Stallion Serie's In Reality Stakes. Trained by Henry Collazo, the chestnut son of Gold Alert had won divisions of the Dr. Fager and Affirmed prior to the In Reality.
Trainer Enrique Alonso, who developed Mr Notebook to win the Mecke Stakes last year, has another promising youngster this season in Herman Heinlein and Fred Hyatt's Gold Phantom. The highly regarded chestnut by Bionic Prospect has won both of his starts sprinting on the main track, but his trainer thinks his best will be at longer distances.