Barbaro Looks Tough in Tropical Park Derby

(from Calder release)
Lael Stable's brilliant prospect Barbaro should be a solid favorite in the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) as a new crop of 3-year-olds makes its 2006 debut on the turf at Calder Race Course.

The Calder program Sunday also includes the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on the grass.

Barbaro, to be ridden in the 1 1/8-mile test by Edgar Prado, has two smashing scores to his credit to begin his racing career for trainer Michael Matz. The Kentucky homebred by Dynaformer captured his career debut on turf at Delaware Park by 8 ½ lengths and came back to win the Laurel Futurity on turf at Laurel Park by eight lengths.

Barbaro faces several other colts that have established strong credentials of their own.

Team Power Play Racing's Yankee Master, teamed with jockey Rafael Bejarano, is a head short of being perfect in three starts in three states, all on turf, for trainer Linda Rice. The son of Yankee Victor easily won his debut over the Belmont Park course in September and shipped to Keeneland in late October for another impressive score in the Bourbon County Stakes in his second start.

Purchased for $60,000 at the OBS March 2-year-old sales on Rice's advice, Yankee Master shipped south to Palm Meadows in early December and was the odds-on choice to win the Kris S. Stakes at Calder on Dec. 10. With Bejarano aboard, he appeared headed to victory at the furlong marker, but drifted out late to lose a head decision.

Frank Calabrese's Lewis Michael, with Shaun Bridgmohan riding, is a Kentucky homebred colt by Rahy out of Justenuffheart, who won the 1998 Frances A. Genter Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Calder for his owner-breeder. Wayne Catalano trains Lewis Michael, who has two wins and two close-up seconds in his four starts, including a 1 ¼ length tally in the Grand Canyon Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 20.

The top local hope is Thorobeam Farm and Henry Mast's Mr. Silver with Eddie Castro aboard. Trained by Eddie Plesa, Jr., the roan/gray colt by Concorde's Tune has won two of three starts on turf and finished third in the Kris S., beaten, 1 ¼ lengths for it all.

On the same day Barbaro romped to victory in the Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park, trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Lawrence Goichman's New York homebred filly J'ray to capture the Selima Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths over Lael Stable's Nice Nelly.

J'ray and Nice Nelly face off again in a field of 12 fillies drawn for the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Park Oaks. J'ray is the probable favorite under jockey John R. Velazquez. A chestnut daughter of Distant View, J'ray is three-for-three on turf, breaking her maiden at Saratoga after a sixth-place debut sprinting on the main track at Saratoga. Prior to the Selima, she won the Jessamine County at Keeneland in late October.

Barclay Tagg trains Nice Nelly, an intriguing prospect to be ridden Sunday by Edgar Prado. The $950,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase is from the small final crop sired by 1977 Triple Crown hero Seattle Slew. Prior to her good effort in the Selima, she broke her maiden sprinting on turf at Belmont after showing little in her main track career debut at Saratoga.

Trainer Tony Dutrow sends out the uncoupled entry of Michael Dubb's Christmas Stocking (Chris DeCarlo) and Sanford Goldfarb's Categorize (Rudy R. Rodriguez). The two finished first and fourth, respectively, in the Cherokee Frolic Stakes over the Calder course on Dec. 10 after shipping in from New York for the winter.

$100,000 Tropical Park Oaks (Race 9, 3:51 p.m.), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/6 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Stolen Prayer (FL), 118, Eddie Castro
2. Christmas Stocking (MD), 118, Christopher P. DeCarlo
3. J'ray (NY), 121, John R. Velazquez
4. Nottawasaga (KY), 114, Brice Blanc
5. Capozzene (KY), 116, John R. Velazquez
6. Philanthropy Lady (KY), 116, Shaun Bridgmohan
7. Mia's Reflection (FL), 118, Rajiv Maragh
8. Warrior Girl (KY), 114, Rafael Bejarano
9. Nice Nelly (KY), 116, Edgar S. Prado
10. My Interpretation (NY), 116, Javier Castellano
11. Categorize (KY), 114, Rudy R. Rodriguez
12. Fluorescent (KY), 116, Mike E. Smith

$100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT, Race 11, 4:44 p.m.), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
1. Lewis Michael (KY), 119, Shaun Bridgmohan
2. My Royal Man (KY), 117, Mark Guidry
3. Wise River (KY), 117, Brice Blanc
4. Yankee Master (KY), 119, Rafael Bejarano
5. Barbaro (KY), 119, Edgar S. Prado
6. Immersed in Gold (NY), 117, Javier Castellano
7. International Cat (KY), 117, Cornelio H. Velasquez
8. Can't Beat It (KY), 115, Joe Bravo
9. Rehoboth (FL), 115, Kristi L. Chapman
10. Mr. Silver (FL), 119, Eddie Castro
11. Allsmarts (FL), 115, Jorge F. Chavez
12. Wedding Singer (FL), 117, John R. Velazquez
Also Eligible
13. Manchu Prince (KY), 115, Christopher P. DeCarlo