Brushwood Stable's homebred Philly Ace bided his time down on the rail during Friday's Calder's closing-day co-feature -- the Grade 3, $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap -- before running down pacesetting 9-5 favorite Hollinger to post a half-length victory.
The Christophe Clement trainee entered the Tropical Turf off a third in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct on November 3, and settled along the rail under jockey Luis Saez as Hollinger set splits of :24 2/5, :50 and 1:14 3/5. The leader was pressured the entire way by Empire Builder and Good Better Best to his outside as well as Sleepless Knight just behind on his heels.
As the field entered the lane, Hollinger was briefly passed by Empire Builder before fighting back to regain the lead. The gray gelding kept motoring, but Philly Ace was moving too good and passed his five-year-old rival to stop the clock in 1:49 1/5 for 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf.Philly Ace was the 3-1 second choice in the nine-horse field and returned $8.60, $4 and $2.60. Hollinger held second by 1 3/4 lengths over Empire Builder, who was followed under the wire by Hoofit, Alley Oop Oop, Sleepless Knight, Good Better Best, Dannhauser and Scorcher. Citrus Kid and Mr. Irons were both scratched.
Philly Ace just earned his first stakes score on September 22 at Parx Racing, gutting out a nose decision in the Alphabet Soup Handicap prior to his Red Smith run. The gelded son of Smart Strike also boasts a second in the Robellino Stakes at Penn National on August 3, and now owns a 7-2-2 mark from 14 career starts. The winner's share from the Tropical Turf boosted his lifetime earnings to $356,966.
The Pennsylvania-bred four-year-old is out of the stakes-placed Polish Numbers mare Bloomy, who has also produced Group 3-placed multiple stakes winner Spring of Fame, dual stakes-placed Slambino and listed-placed Leopolis. Bloomy is herself a daughter of 1978 champion Late Bloomer and counts as half-siblings Grade 1 scorer Ends Well and Grade 2 victor Fred Astaire, who finished third in the 1986 Breeders' Cup Mile.
Philly Ace's third dam is 1985 Broodmare of the Year Dunce Cap II, whose descendents include Grade 2 stars Johnny Appleseed, Del Mar Dennis and Forty Niner Days as well as multiple Grade 3 veteran Late Act.