Criticism, who has won two grade III stakes in her four American starts, is the 121-pound highweight in the $150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT), the first of two turf stakes events on the opening Saturday of the spring/summer meet at Calder Race Course April 25.
The La Prevoyante, for fillies and mares at 1 1/2 miles, shares top billing with the $100,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT), which attracted a full field of 12 grass runners. Vanquisher is the 118-pound high weight. The La Prevoyante goes as the seventh race, with the Miami Mile set two races later.
Just five are entered in the La Prevoyante. Darley Stable's homebred Criticism won the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) and The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) handicaps back-to-back before finishing third as the 3-5 choice in the Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 22 at Gulfstream Park for trainer Tom Albertrani.
Criticism, who likes to be forwardly placed, was forced to chase down a loose-on-the-lead Julia Tuttle and ran out of steam after opening a two-length lead in the Orchid, which, like the La Prevoyante, is contested at 12 furlongs. The 5-year-old British-bred daughter of Machiavellian was passed in the homestretch and finished third, four lengths behind the victorious Dress Rehearsal.
She'll likely be able to dictate the pace this time. Javier Castellano, who last rode the bay mare in Aqueduct's Long Island Nov. 1, has the call.
With her two starts this year, Criticism has already ran as many times as she did in all of 2008. She debuted in the United States with a second-place finish in Belmont Park's Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) in October. Criticism won four of 12 starts at 3 in France, where she was group-placed. In all, the consistent runner is 6-5-3 in 16 lifetime starts with earnings of $370,367.
French-bred Astrologie embarks on her 2009 campaign for trainer Christophe Clement and owner Haras du Mezeray. The 4-year-old filly has had just one U.S. try, finishing third to Criticism in the Long Island, and has won three times in seven lifetime starts, all coming last year. The chestnut daughter of Polish Precedent previously raced in France.
Long Approach, fourth in both Gulfstream's Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) and The Very One earlier this year, returned to finish second in a third-level off-the-turf allowance race at Keeneland April 10. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard for Augustin Stable, the 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Broad Brush is looking for her first victory in 10 starts. Her last win came in an allowance at Delaware Park in September 2007.
Awesome Moment and Icon Project step forward from the allowance ranks.
In the Miami Mile, the Florida-bred Vanquisher began the year with back-to-back wins, including one in a state-bred stake at Gulfstream, before repeat fourth-place finishes in open stakes on the turf.
Trained by Greg Griffith for Kinsman Stable, the 5-year-old Gulch gelding turned in a closing fourth-place effort in the 7 1/2-furlong Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT), finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind Kiss the Kid. A six-time winner in 20 previous starts, the bay also ran fourth in the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at one mile immediately before that.
Vanquisher has finished in the money in 10 of 20 lifetime starts, with six wins and earnings of $183,836. Carlos Montalvo retains the mount.
Multiple stakes winner Fearless Eagle comes into the Miami Mile with a victory in the Kinsman Turf Classic Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his last start April 4. Edward Plesa Jr. trains the 5-year-old son of Invisible Ink for owner/breeder Issac Muhtar. Fearless Eagle is a four-time winner at Calder.
Wesley has lost five in a row since capturing the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) over 3-year-olds in come-from behind style at Saratoga last August. Mark Hennig trains the El Prado colt for J. Paul Reddam and Willmott Stables. Wesley drew the far outside post and will be reunited with Castellano in the Miami Mile.
Also entered is Finallymadeit, who scored for the first time in six tries at the just-concluded Gulfstream meet when he romped to an 8 1/4-length victory in the Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) on dirt April 4. The 5-year-old son of Concerto has failed to hit the board in two previous turf starts. The chestnut, nicknamed "Iron Horse" in South Florida, is a 13-time winner in 27 starts at Calder and has earned $931,265 in his 42-race career. Javier Negrete conditions Finallymadeit for Rolbea Thoroughbred Racing.
$150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:44 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Awesome Moment (KY), 110, Manuel Aguilar
2. Long Approach (PA), 116, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Icon Project (KY), 113, Elvis Trujillo
4. Criticism (GB), 121, Javier Castellano
5. Astrologie (FR), 115, Joe Bravo
$100,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Vanquisher (FL), 118, Carlos Montalvo
2. Rogue Victory (KY), 114, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Cenzontle (KY), 114, Jeffrey Sanchez
4. Finallymadeit (FL), 115, Eduardo O. Nunez
5. Granizo (BRZ), 113, Eduardo O. Nunez
6. Mambo Meister (KY), 115, Manoel R. Cruz
7. Motovato (KY), 111, Jermaine V. Bridgmohan
8. Scientist (NY), 108, Eddie Dominguez
9. Dream Maestro (FL), 113, Manoel R. Cruz
10. Baron Von Tap (KY), 113, Andrew R. Ramgeet
11. Fearless Eagle (FL), 117, Elvis Trujillo
12. Wesley (KY), 115, Javier Castellano