Coming off a fifth-place finish in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and carrying significantly less weight than his 126-pound load in that race, Eugene Melnyk's Host looks for his first victory since May 26 when he competes in the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course Dec. 1.
Run at 1 1/8 miles on Calder’s turf course, the Tropical Turf Handicap has drawn runners such as Minister’s Joy, Fishy Advice, Presious Passion, and Giant Wrecker. But 7-year-old Host, who has not scored a victory for trainer Todd Pletcher since taking the one-mile Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park, may find the edge he needs with his 118-pound assignment.
Carrying the top weight of 122 pounds in the field of 12 is Go Between, winner of the Oct. 27 Fayette Stakes (gr. III) on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface. A 4-year-old Point Given colt trained by Bill Mott for Peter Vegso, Go Between won the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) in 2006 and is now looking for his third consecutive victory following the Fayette win and a 4 ¾-length score in the Sept. 22 Louisiana Downs Breeders’ Cup Handicap. He has always been a narrow victor at the 1 1/8-mile distance, however, with both of his wins at the distance coming only by a neck.
Also coming into the race off a recent win is David Donk trainee Fishy Advice. The 5-year-old son of Woodman took the Oct. 28 Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct by a length and has not been beaten at the 1 1/8-mile distance this year.
Fellow Knickerbocker runner National Captain, the South Africa-bred runner who was sixth in that race, may rebound from that finish as his previous two starts in the United States resulted in victories on the turf at Saratoga and Belmont for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Previously, the 5-year-old Captain Al horse raced to victory in Dubai and was grade III stakes-placed in South Africa.
H. Graham Motion trainee Salinja, whose back-to-back seconds in an allowance race at Laurel Park and in the Franklin Stakes at Kentucky Downs came by narrow margins, could step up. The Boundary gelding had raced in England until this year, and since then has finished worse than third only once.
$100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT, race 11, approximate post 4:45 p.m.), 1 1/8-miles for 3-year-olds and upward, turf
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Host, 118, Eddie Castro
2. Minister's Joy, 116, Manoel Cruz
3. Ballast, 115, Kent Desormeaux
4. National Captain, 114, Jose Lezcano
5. Magic Mecke, 116, Elvis Trujillo
6. Go Between, 122, Cornelio Velasquez
7. Presious Passion, 117, Jorge Chavez
8. Fishy Advice, 118, Javier Castellano
9. Giant Wrecker, 117, Jose Velez, Jr.
10. Salinja, 114, Rosemary Homeister, Jr.
11. Baron Von Tap, 115, Manuel Aguilar
12. Touched by Madness, 116, Roberto Alvarado, Jr.
AE. Imawildandcrazyguy, 114, Manoel Cruz
AE. Rehoboth, 113, Cornelio Velasquez
AE. Ballonenostrikes, 113, Pedro Cotto, Jr.