With Jose Rivera Jr. aboard for trainer Dave Braddy, Fair Weather Stan nipped Fearless Eagle by a nose following a terrific stretch duel in the 1 1/16-mile Needles Stakes on the Calder grass course Sept. 22.
A dozen entered the 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby for 3-year-olds, but there's just one shipper -- Zayat Stables' Got the Last Laugh, trained by Bill Mott. The rest are Florida-breds based at Calder. Seven entrants came out of the Needles.
One of those is Imawildandcrazyguy, the fourth-place finisher in this year's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), who is still seeking his first stakes win. The Wild Event gelding gave a creditable performance in his turf debut in the Needles, finishing third while beaten 3 1/4 lengths. Trainer William Kaplan will be looking for a stronger pace than they got in the Needles, which was clocked in 1:12 3/5 for the opening six furlongs.
Joel Sainer's Florida homebred Fair Weather Stan, at odds of 21-1, was able to sit comfortably mid-pack in the Needles, then came with his run four wide to collar 28-1 shot Fearless Eagle. The latter, ridden by Roimes Chirinos, was near the slow early pace and held a short advantage in the stretch, just failing to last.
Fair Weather Stan also got the better of the Edward Plesa Jr.- trained Fearless Eagle by two lengths in an overnight stakes the previous time they met on the Calder grass course July 14. Between the two Calder races, the Tiger Ridge gelding ventured to Delaware Park for the Nick Shuk Memorial Aug. 4 and was a well-beaten seventh.
"He shipped up there fine 10 days before the race, but just didn’t run," said Braddy. "Otherwise, he’s been highly consistent.” Fair Weather Stan has won six of 16 lifetime with earnings of $172,730.
Also exiting the Needles for the Calder Derby was the even-money favorite Soldier's Dancer, the fourth-place finisher. Soldier's Dancer was steadied on the far turn and never got it cranked for trainer David Vivian, losing by 4 1/4 lengths. Soldier's Dancer won the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) on the local grass in January, one of four Calder victories for the Lost Soldier gelding.
Kentucky-bred Got the Last Laugh spent the summer in New York with Mott. The Distorted Humor colt defeated older horses in a second-level allowance by one length at Saratoga Aug. 25. But he was overmatched in Belmont Park's Kelso Handicap (gr. IIT) one month later, finishing last of 10 at odds of 35-1, 16 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Trippi's Storm. Winner of the Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Futurity (gr. III) at Arlington Park in just his second start as a 2-year-old, Got the Last Laugh will carry top weight of 122 pounds.
After contesting the Needles most recently, Villainage (seventh), Hal's My Hope (11th after setting the pace) and Unbridled Music (12th) all take another shot.
$200,000 Calder Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:28 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Imawildandcrazyguy (FL), 117, Manoel R. Cruz
2. Fair Weather Stan (FL), 119, Jose Alberto Rivera II
3. Craftmanship (FL), 115, Roberto Alvarado, Jr.
4. Unbridled Music (FL), 115, Eibar Coa
5. One of the Best (FL), 115, Eduardo O. Nunez
6. Kris Silver (FL), 115, Pedro Monterrey, Jr.
7. Villainage (FL), 115, Cornelio H. Velasquez
8. Fearless Eagle (FL), 117, Roimes Chirinos
9. Hal's My Hope (FL), 119, Daniel Centeno
10. Soldier's Dancer (FL), 119, Cornelio H. Velasquez
11. Got the Last Laugh (KY), 122, Elvis Trujillo
12. Steelix (FL), 115, Jose Lezcano