The Calder Derby is the headliner of four turf stakes on opening weekend at Calder, with purses totaling $1.15 million. Also on the program are the $200,000 Calder Oaks, the $300,000 Mairzy Doates Handicap for fillies and mares, and the $250,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Handicap for 3-year-olds and up. The 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby was shifted on the Calder schedule, as it was previously run in October during the “Festival of Sun” program. A field of 12 has been entered.
Trainer Christophe Clement, who stables horses at nearby Payson Park, may be in store for a huge weekend in South Florida. Clement will not only saddle Sporting Art and Flying Dismount in the Calder Derby, but will also send out probable favorites in the Mairzy Doates (Mauralakana) and Bob Umphrey (In Summation), and have a contender in the Calder Oaks (Applauded).
"It's nice to have favorites in some races, but it would be even nicer if they won," Clement said.
Sporting Art bested Flying Dismount by a head in the Palm Beach, which was run at Gulfstream Park, also at 1 1/8 miles. A son of Doneraile Court--Playful Run, Sporting Art won two of four starts in Europe before joining Clement over the winter. Bred in Kentucky by Frank Penn and John R. Penn, he was beaten a neck by current entrant Run Sully Run in his American debut Feb. 20, an allowance event at Gulfstream.
Javier Castellano will get the return mount on the bay colt, who is 3-1-0 from six career starts.
Flying Dismount was a neck away from winning his third consecutive event when he came from off the pace to challenge in the Palm Beach. The Proud Citizen colt came to Clement from the barn of Todd Pletcher late last year after losing badly in his first two starts. Since then he broke his maiden last December and followed up by winning in allowance company Feb. 17, both at Tampa Bay Downs. Bred in Kentucky by Charles Jacobi, he will get Rene Douglas for the second straight time.
"Both of them are doing very well since that last race," Clement said. "Sporting Art is an improving horse who has done very well since coming over. We like him a lot. We freshened him the other day (April 19, four furlongs in :50.40). Flying Dismount is a wonderful story. When he came here we didn't think much of him. But he keeps impressing us with every start.
"It's a very good race. There is plenty of speed and with $400,000 on the line, we expected a tough field. That is why I am using good jockeys. We trust them to make good decisions."
Titan of Industry (third), Run Sully Run (sixth) and Wise Answer (10th) were all Palm Beach starters who will look for revenge in the Calder Derby. Wise Answer, who won three consecutive restricted Florida-bred stakes last year, but was beaten soundly in all three efforts as a 3-year-old, is the 122-pound highweight.
A pair of Florida-bred 3-year-olds making their turf debuts—Dream Maestro and He’s Eze—could also be factor in the Calder Derby outcome. Herb and Ione Elkin’s Dream Maestro has never been off the board in six starts, including his second-place finish in the April 12 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, where he was 2 1/4 lengths back of Hey Byrn. The gelded son of Concerto broke his maiden March 23 at nine furlongs. Bill Kaplan trains.
Both of He’s Eze’s wins have come on the Calder main track, including the restricted Jack Price Juvenile last November. The Silver Deputy colt contested all three Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) preps at Oaklawn Park this season for trainer Terry Oliver, but did not hit the board in any. Most recently, he was sixth in the March 15 Rebel Stakes (gr. II).
$400,000 Calder Derby (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 4:54 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Acai (FL), 115, Herb McCauley
2. Sporting Art (KY), 119, Javier Castellano
3. Afleet Bob (FL), 115, Ariel Smith
4. Tour Ireland (FL), 115, Yamil Rosario
5. Run Sully Run (KY), 115, Joe Bravo
6. Highly Honored (FL), 115, Eddie Castro
7. Titan of Industry (KY), 115, Cornelio H. Velasquez
8. Wise Answer (FL), 122, Jeffrey Sanchez
9. Dream Maestro (FL), 115, Manoel R. Cruz
10. Flying Dismount (KY), 115, Rene R. Douglas
11. He's Eze (FL), 117, Jose Alberto Rivera II
12. El Sultry Sun (FL), 119, Kent J. Desormeaux