Sweet Repent rallied past Jessica Is Back in the stretch to win the Elmer Heubeck Distaff on Florida Million day Nov. 14, and the two face off again in the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 26 at Calder Race Course and Casino. Part of a 14-horse field in the 1 1/16-mile test, they face several accomplished fillies and mares shipping in for the South Florida winter season from New York and Kentucky.
Jockey Manoel Cruz gets the return call on Sweet Repent for trainer Dave Braddy, while Luis Saez rides Jessica Is Back for trainer Marty Wolfson.
A daughter of Repent, Buongiorno A. Tutti Stable’s 3-year-old filly Sweet Repent bids for a fourth straight victory after her commanding 3 1/4-length victory in the Elmer Heubeck, a $200,000 race.
Farnsworth Stables’ 5-year-old mare Jessica Is Back was the odds-on favorite in that race and finished second. She will be well-supported again as the daughter of Put It Back has since come back to post an impressive 5 3/4-length allowance victory on Dec. 6 going wire-to-wire. Wolfson also will be represented in the race by Team Valor International’s 4-year-old Irish-bred filly Miss Singhsix with Jermaine Bridgmohan named to ride.
Trainers Michael Matz, Shug McGaughey and Bill Mott each have contenders that will attract support.
Jose Lezcano rides 5-year-old Peruvian-bred Morena for Matz as she makes her first start since a good runner-up finish in the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.
Alan Garcia will be aboard Emory Hamilton’s homebred 4-year-old filly Flying Dixie, a McGaughey-trained daughter of Dixieland Band that has won allowance races at Belmont and Meadowlands in her last two starts.
Eddie Castro gets the call on Lyon Stables’ 3-year-old filly Kiddari, from the Mott barn. The daughter of Smarty Jones makes her first start since a hard-fought head victory in a one-mile allowance at Belmont on Oct. 22.
Completing the field for the Stage Door Betty are Chiefswood Stable’s pair of Aurora Lights and Lomaki, Capilupi Racing’s Nicksappealinglady, John Prete’s Sweetsouthernqueen, Lucille Geranis’ Cat Can Do, Ersoff Racing Stable’s Even Road, Marilyn Seltzer’s Amazing and New Life Stable’s Hopeful Image.
$100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap (gr. III, Race 11, 4:43 p.m.), Fillies & mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Aurora Lights (KY), C H Velasquez, 117, E Coatrieux, 8/1
2. Sweet Repent (FL), M R Cruz, 117, J D Braddy, 4/1
3. Morena (PER), J Lezcano, 116, M R Matz, 6/1
4. Flying Dixie (KY), A Garcia, 116, C R McGaughey III, 12/1
5. Nicksappealinglady (FL), J R Velazquez, 115, B Tagg, 20/1
6. Lomaki (KY), P DeCarlo, 116, E Coatrieux, 15/1
7. Sweetsouthernqueen (FL), E S Prado, 114, V L Blengs, 20/1
8. Cat Can Do (FL), D Coa, 114, R Ziadie, 30/1
9. Even Road (FL), L E Arango, 117, S M Ersoff, 12/1
10. Miss Singhsix (IRE), J V Bridgmohan, 116, M D Wolfson, 6/1
11. Jessica Is Back (FL), L Saez, 118, M D Wolfson, 3/1
12. Amazing (FL), E Trujillo, 115, B A Lynch, 12/1
13. Kiddari (KY), E Castro, 113, W I Mott, 20/1
14. Hopeful Image (KY), E O Nunez, 113, G Procino, 30/1