Trainer Christophe Clement may have the one to beat in the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Casino & Race Course Dec. 2 with Brushwood Stable’s 4-year-old colt Mr. Ryder following a strong, third-place effort last out in the Oct. 15 Knickerbocker Stakes (gr. IIIT), beaten less than a length on yielding turf at Belmont Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Tropical Turf, which drew a field of nine, is the seventh race on the card and is slated for 3:08 p.m.
Mr. Ryder, a chestnut son of Giant's Causeway —Saudia, by Gone West, was purchased for $800,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. He won three straight before the Knickerbocker– allowance races at Belmont and Monmouth Park and the July 16 Sussex Stakes at Delaware Park–all on turf.
Bred in Kentucky by Ben Walden and H. Sexton, Mr. Ryder holds an overall career record of 5-0-1 from nine starts, for earnings of $175,480.
Jockey Joe Bravo, who was aboard for the Knickerbocker, has the return riding assignment for the Tropical Turf. Toting 118 pounds, Mr. Ryder will break from post 6.
Trainer Todd Pletcher also has a viable contender with Black Rock Stable’s 3-year-old Silver Medallion. The son of Badge of Silver, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano and was also assigned 118 pounds in the Tropical Turf Handicap, finished a game third last out in the Nov. 3 Commonwealth Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs after a runner-up effort in an allowance race at Woodbine in early October in his first start for Pletcher.
Silver Medallion was trained last winter by Steve Asmussen, winning the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf at Santa Anita and the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) on the Tapeta synthetic track at Golden Gate Fields in February. He went on to finish fourth in both the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in April before heading to the sidelines until the Oct. 7 Woodbine allowance race.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones, Silver Medallion is out of the Stalwart mare Another Vegetarian and is a half brother to grade I victor Sweet Talker. He has a career mark of 3-2-1 from 10 starts and earnings of $306,603.
Certain to attract attention while making his stakes debut will be Frank Calabrese’s 6-year-old gelding Chosen Empire. Jockey Elvis Trujillo was named to ride the son of Empire Maker for trainer Nick Canani.
Chosen Empire, a $30,000 claim at Gulfstream Park in April, has won all four of his starts since by clear margins on the turf at Calder, Saratoga, and Monmouth Park. Most recently, he posted a 2 ½-length victory in an allowance optional claiming race at Calder Oct. 7.
Completing the field for the Tropical Turf are Stormy Lord, winner of the May 29 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-IIT) and three other stakes at the Canada track this year; Tannersville, who captured the Our Dear Peggy Stakes on the Calder dirt Sept. 10; other Canadian invader Hollinger, a dual stakes winner in 2009; and Mobilizer, Perfect Footprint, and Grove Hall, who are all looking for their first black-type scores.
$100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. III, Race 7, 3:08 p.m.), 3YOs and up, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Grove Hall (FL), E O Nunez, 112, R R Rodrigue
2. Mobilizer (ON), J Sanchez, 116, R L Attfield
3. Perfect Footprint (KY), J Rodriguez, 116, D J Figueroa
4. Stormy Lor (ON), J Stein, 121, I Black
5. Tannersville (FL), L Jurado, 116, H Collazo
6. Mr. Ryder (KY), J Bravo, 118, C Clement
7. Silver Medallion (KY), J Castellano, 118, T A Pletcher
8. Chosen Empire (KY), E Trujilo, 116, N Canani
9. Hollinger (ON), P Lopez, 117