(from Calder report)
Herman Heinlein’s newly turned 3-year-old gelding Soldier’s Dancer, sent off as the 3-2 favorite, won his second stakes race over the Calder turf, the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT), by three-quarters of a length on New Year's Day.
In November, Soldier’s Dancer had won the Arthur Appleton Juvenile Turf on Florida Million day. All nine of the gray's starts have come at Calder, where he has a 4-2-2 record on both turf and dirt and earnings of $183,420.
Dave Vivian trains the Florida-bred son of Lost Soldier. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez was aboard for the win on Monday. Franks Farm bred Soldier's Dancer, who is out of Heather's Dancer, by Gate Dancer.
Soldier’s Dancer came running late in the 1 1/8 miles turf race, closing fast to defeat Sedgefield. It was another 1¾ lengths back to Storm in May who was the early pacesetter. Soldier’s Dancer completed the nine furlongs in 1:48.95.
“The jock said he didn’t even hit him today," Vivian said. "When this horse first came to us, we couldn’t do anything with him. He was big, fat and lazy, acting studdish. We decided to cut (geld) him, and he still didn’t show that much, which was why we ran him for the tag ($32,000) in his first start.
"Then he started to come around after that. Before he won the Appleton (Juvenile Turf), he stepped on himself pretty bad, and we had to do a lot of work on his foot just to get him to the race. After this performance today, I might have to say he’s the best horse I’ve ever trained, and I still think he’ll run on dirt. That’s probably where we’ll go next with him at Gulfstream, maybe the Holy Bull (GIII on Feb. 3).”
The winner paid $5, $3, and $2.60.
“This is a very good horse because he got into some trouble and overcame it nicely," Velasquez noted. "He showed me today that, even without any pace up front to run at, he could still finish and give whatever you needed to get the job done. His last quarter mile was very fast.”
Sedgefield, ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the colt's stakes debut, returned $7.80 and $5.20.
Storm in May, Manoel Cruz aboard, was $4 to show.
Then came Rutledge Cat, Delightful Kiss, On My Dime, Pickapocket, Loose Leaf, and Northern Academy.
Drums of Thunder, Green Vegas, and Imawildandcrazyguy scratched.