Racegoers might get a sense of deja vu when the field heads postward for the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) at Calder Race Course Dec. 15. Many of the runners in the seven-furlong event have faced each other before, sometimes with very close results.
One of four graded stakes on the $600,000 Grand Slam II program at Calder, the Kenny Noe (for 3-year-olds and up) even features a repeat competitor in Paradise Dancer. The 7-year-old Langfuhr gelding finished second in the 2006 edition of the race and comes into this year’s event off a solid campaign that includes on-the-board finishes in each of six starts.
Trainer Kirk Ziadie sent him his most recent victory in the Oct. 20 Go To Will Stakes at Calder, and he also raced to a second-place finish in the July 7 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) and a third-place finish in the April 18 Miami Mile Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III).
Out of the Bold Ruckus mare Ruckus Ridge, Paradise Dancer has a convincing 10-10-10 record from 39 starts for owner Richard Averill. He breaks from post three in the field of 12 and carries high weight of 120 pounds.
Two solid contenders come into the race off one-two finishes in the Nov. 24 Radar Love Stakes.
Finallymadeit, a 3-year-old son of Concerto and winner of the 6 1/2-furlong Radar Love in his last start for trainer Javier Negrete, got that victory by a neck over Ziadie trainee D’artagnans’spirit. Those two had faced off in the April 28 Ponche Handicap, finishing third and sixth, respectively. D’artagnans’spirit, a 5-year-old son of Secret Hello, also lost by 1 1/2-lengths to Paradise Dancer last year after stumbling at the start of an allowance/optional claiming event.
Also of interest is the Steve Asmussen-trained Santana Strings, whose loss in the Nov. 17 Bet on Sunshine Handicap was preceded by a 1 1/4-length allowance/optional claimer win at Keeneland Oct. 18, and Bill Kaplan trainee Storm in May, who was second in the Nov. 10 Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap and third behind Paradise Dancer in the Go To Will. Storm in May finished 16th in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Finance Minister comes off a Nov. 25 win in the Pass The Line Stakes for trainer Juan D. Arias, Yes He’s the Man seeks to rebound off a sixth-place finish in the Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap after winning the Oct .13 Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III) for trainer J.D. Braddy, and No More Masters tries graded company for the first time after a convincing pair of allowance wins for trainer Herberto Toledo.
$100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III, race 9, approximate post 3:53 p.m.), seven furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, dirt
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Finance Minister, 115, Jorge Chavez
2. Yes He's the Man, 115, Julio A. Garcia
3. Paradise Dancer, 120, Elvis Trujillo
4. No More Masters, 13 Raymundo Fuentes
5. Santana Strings, 117, Rene Douglas
6. Olympic, 115, Eddie Castro
7. Guapeton, 115, Manuel Aguilar
8. Finallymadeit, 118, Eduardo Nunez
9. Fortunate Trail, 113, Manoel Cruz
10. D'artagnans'spirit, 118, Jose Lezcano
11. Storm in May, 116, Juan C. Leyva
12. Rexson's Rose, 115, Jose Alberto Rivera II