Locally-based pair Big Drama and Mambo Meister, with a combined 13 wins at Calder Casino & Race Course and both entering off wins over the track, are two of the horses to beat in the $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) on July 10.
The six-furlong Smile Sprint is one of four graded races on Calder’s Summit of Speed program worth more than $1 million. The winner will receive an automatic berth in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. A solid field of 13 was entered.
Harold Queen’s 4-year-old Big Drama is based at Calder with trainer David Fawkes. As a juvenile, he won four times there, including a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes series. The son of Montbrook closed out his 2008 season with a victory in the $750,000 Delta Jackpot (gr. III).
Runner-up in the Swale (gr. II) after being disqualified from first and also second by a head in the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) during his sophomore season, Big Drama ended 2009 with an off-the-board finish in the grade I King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga, then was off for more than nine months before returning in June for his 4-year-old debut. The speedy colt made it a winning one, drawing away in the stretch to take the Ponche Handicap by more than three lengths at Calder.
Luis Saez was aboard for that win, but regular rider Eibar Coa is back for the Smile Sprint. Big Drama will break from post 10 and carry top weight of 121 pounds.
All nine of Mambo Meister’s career wins have come at Calder. The 5-year-old King Cugat gelding notched his biggest scores in the Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III) last season, the Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf in April, and the Memorial Day Handicap (gr. III) last out.
Interestingly, all 28 of Mambo Meister lifetime starts have come at one mile or more, so the cutback in distance will be an experiment. The versatile bay has won on the lead and from off the pace, but is likely to be forwardly-placed under jockey Manoel Cruz, especially since they break from post 3. He is owned by Quantum Racing Team #1.
Taqarub, a 4-year-old by Aldebaran has won his last two starts, including the six-furlong Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico May 15. It was the first graded win for Taqarub, who is also expected to be part of a solid pace. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee boasts a 5-1-0 record from nine starts. Edgar Prado has the mount.
Congressional Page seeks his first graded win in his Calder debut. Based at Monmouth Park with trainer Michael Trombetta, Congressional Page enters off a victory in the six-furlong Decathlon Stakes May 22 in New Jersey. Earlier this season, the 5-year-old Orientate gelding was runner-up in both the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr. II) and Keeneland’s Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II). Robby Albarado will be in the irons.
Five-time stakes winner Go Go Shoot, who was third in the Decathlon, could also be near the pace.
$350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II, Race 10, 5:13 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Rusty Charlie (FL), A Moreno, 112, F Machado Jr.
2. Go Go Shoot (FL), D Cohen, 115, T A Pletcher
3. Mambo Meister (KY), M R Cruz, 118, P A Gleaves
4. Sincero (FL), J Sanchez, 112, M J Azpurua
5. Gato Go Win (FL), L Saez, 115, J C Catanese, III
6. How's Your Halo (FL), J C Leyva, 115, B Prichard
7. Taqarub (KY), E S Prado, 118, K P McLaughlin
8. Congressional Page (KY), R Albarado, 117, M J Trombetta
9. Causeway's Kin (KY), J R Leparoux, 112, M D Wolfson
10. Big Drama (FL), E Coa, 121, D Fawkes
11. Not for Silver (MD), J Pimentel, 117, M J Trombetta
12. Golden Spikes (KY), E Trujillo, 114, R E Dutrow Jr.
13. Snapshot (KY), K J Desormeaux, 114, W I Mott