The final days of the Tropical-at-Calder meet should yield some of the most memorable racing of the year, beginning with Saturday's Grand Slam II program featuring four stakes races worth a total of $500,000.
A formidable group of stakes runners that have arrived in South Florida for the winter season will line up in the four graded stakes races to face the best of the Calder-based runners in each of the six-figure fixtures.
Hall of Fame jockeys Jerry Bailey and Pat Day will be in action as well as Jorge Chavez, Jose Santos, Richard Migliore, Edgar Prado, Robbie Davis, John L. Velazquez, and Mark Guidry. Among the powerful stables with runners will be Bill Mott, Shug McGaughey, Christophe Clement, Mark Hennig, and Todd Pletcher.
Raising Dust Stable's emerging star Mr. Pleasentfar and Robert Schaedle III and Bonnie Heath Farm's veteran millionaire performer Honor Glide will meet for the first time in the $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 ½ miles.
Jockey Jose Santos gets a return call on 4-year-old Mr. Pleasentfar for trainer Marty Wolfson while Robbie Davis flies in to take the call on Honor Glide for Christophe Clement as the highweight at 117 pounds in the full field of 12.
Brazilian-bred Mr. Pleasentfar makes only his sixth start in the U.S. after racing in Brazil and once in Dubai prior to being sent to Wolfson in the spring. The 4-year-old son of Emmson showed promise in three middle-distance tests but showed longer races were to be his best game with scores in the Flying Pidgeon Handicap here and the Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct in his last two outings, both at 11 furlongs.
Honor Glide is a 7-year-old son of Honor Grades with earnings of nearly $1.4 million, including Grade 1 stakes earlier in his career. Second in the Hialeah Turf Cup (gr. IIT) when last seen in South Florida in April, the Florida-bred showed he still has the ability at the top level when capturing the Niagara Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT) at Woodbine in September.
Completing the field for the 30th running of the McKnight are Ravaro, Jose Espinoza; Profit Option, Mark Guidry; Pegs Halo, Manuel Aguilar; Buff, Pat Day; Eltawaasul, Jorge Chavez; Deeliteful Irving, John Velazquez; Just Listen, Cornelio Velasquez; Riddlesdown, Edgar Prado; Unite's Big Red, Eduardo Nunez; and Crash Course, Eibar Coa.