Weigelia Wires 7th Calder Win in Kenny Noe

Calder specialist Weigelia wrestled the early lead from How's Your Halo and was never challenged through the stretch en route to an easy 4 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) over a sloppy track at seven furlongs Saturday.

Joseph J. Balsamo's Florida-bred recorded his seventh win in 16 starts over the Calder main track. Ridden by Eddie Castro for trainer Michael Trombetta, Weigelia completed the distance in 1:24 under moderate handling through the lane as main competitors Robbies Charm and Mister Fotis faded late.

"The most difficult part of this race was shaking off (How's Your Halo) once we hooked him on the lead," Castro said. "After that I was able to relax my horse and be in control of the race. That's all we needed to get the job done today."

How's Your Halo, who fell back under Eddie Trujillo after leading during the opening quarter mile (:22 1/5) and racing a close second after a half in :45, came on again along the inside in the final furlong but was nipped by the late running Paradise Dancer and Jose Lezcano by a nose for second. Carrots Only edged Valid Video for fourth.

A model of consistency for Trombetta, Weigelia, a 5-year-old Safely's Mark horse, improved his record to 12-6-9 in 35 lifetime starts with earnings of $896,580. He won for the third time in eight tries in 2006 and got his initial win over an off-track in four attempts.

"The track today looked like it was favoring speed, and he was able to get the lead and settle without much trouble," said Trombetta, who mentioned the Mr. Prospector (gr. III) Jan 7 at Gulfstream Park as the likely next stop for Weigelia. "He steps up at this track. He's won the Jack Dudley twice (2004-05) and the Carry Back as a 3-year-old before I got him (as a 4-year-old). He's a nice horse everywhere, but at his best here."

He paid $17.40, $7.40, and $5 while topping a $90 exacta with Paradise Dancer, who returned $4.80 and $3.60. How's Your Halo was $8.20 to show.

Carrots Only was followed by Valid Video, 6-5 favorite Nightmare Affair, Mister Fotis, Robbies Charm and Istan.

Shelley Huber bred Weigelia, who is out of the Obligato mare Turning North.

(Chart, Equibase)