The day’s features at the Miami Gardens, Fla., track will be the second legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes series -- the Affirmed in the open division and the Susan’s Girl in the fillies division. Each race is at seven furlongs on the dirt with $150,000 in purses.
All 12 races on the card are for 2-year olds. The card drew 116 entries, not counting also eligibles.
Calder’s records show it was the first U.S. track to hold an entire day of racing for 2-year olds.
“Calder has been a hotbed of 2-year old activity, in large part due to the breeding industry in Ocala, and is second only to Kentucky in turning out stakes winners,” said Michele Blanco, the track’s director of publicity. “We probably have more races for 2-year olds than any other track. The records of horses that have run in the Stallion Stakes and of other horses that ran at Calder and were later sold privately speaks volumes of our success.”
This year’s most prominent example is Vineyard Haven, the winner of the Sept. 1 Hopeful Stakes (gr. 1) at Saratoga.
Vineyard Haven broke his maiden in his debut, at Calder on June 28. Owner-trainer Lynne Scace then sold the Lido Palace colt to Bobby Frankel in a private sale. In his race prior to the Hopeful, the Frankel-trained Vineyard Haven finished third on a muddy track in the July 24 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga.
Mount Joy Stables’ Smooth Air, who this year finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) and won the Ohio Derby (gr. II), was among horses that ran in Stallion Stakes races in 2007.
Smile and Holy Bull are among horses that won Stallion Stakes races and later won Eclipse Awards.
The Florida Stallion Stakes series is restricted to offspring of nominated stallions standing in Florida. They are kept eligible for the program through sustaining payments made as weanlings, yearlings and as 2-year-olds.
On Aug. 16, Harold L. Queen’s Big Drama won the Dr. Fager first leg of the open division. Jennifer Harries and Brenda Tabraue’s La Chica Sensual won the Desert Vixen first leg of the fillies division. Both races were six furlongs with $100,000 purses.
La Chica Sensual is the 7-5 morning line favorite among seven entrants in the Susan’s Girl. Ray Fuentes will ride for trainer Pablo Andrade.
Big Drama, at 2-1, is the second morning line choice in the Affirmed. Kramer Stables’ You Luckie Mann, who hit the gate and finished a troubled third in the Dr. Fager, is the 8-5 favorite in the Affirmed.
David Fawkes, Big Drama’s trainer, likes the fact that his horse has the outside post in the eight-horse field.
“He is very versatile and can run any way we ask him, and the other horse (You Luckie Mann) is inside us,” Fawkes said.
Apprentice Pascacio (Paco) Lopez, who leads Calder jockeys with 130 wins through Sept. 4, will ride Big Drama. Javier Santiago will ride You Luckie Mann for trainer Marty Wolfson.
Fawkes feels that the Juvenile Showcase is “a great idea for Florida racing.”
“The Calder program is a hub for 2-year olds, and this day helps bring more attention and credit to Ocala for the horses it breeds,” he said.
The Stallion Stakes will conclude Oct. 18 with the Open Division’s In Reality and the fillies’ division My Dear Girl. Both are at 1 1/16 miles with $400,000 purses.
The other four Sept. 6 Juvenile Showcase stakes are not restricted to Florida breds or to progeny of Florida stallions. The stakes, all with $60,000 guaranteed purses, are:
* Catcharisingstar--five furlongs on turf, fillies.
* Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash--five furlongs on turf, open.
* Lindsay Frolic--one mile on dirt, fillies.
* Seacliff--one mile on dirt, open.