Rich in Spirit will bid to keep her perfect record on turf intact as the probable favorite in Saturday's $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks, a highlight of the $350,000 Grand Slam III program at Calder Race Course. "She's all set and the same jock (Javier Castellano) will ride her," trainer Tom Proctor said Monday morning from Tampa Bay Downs.Rich in Spirit will turn three Saturday, along with her contemporary fillies expected to run in the Tropical Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on turf. A daughter of Repriced, Rich in Spirit won races on turf at Arlington Park and Keeneland after a couple of chances sprinting on dirt at Churchill Downs and Arlington. Rich in Spirit made her third start on grass in Calder's John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf on Florida Million day, Nov. 13. With a bold charge in the final furlong under Castellano, she was up in time to score by a length over Dansetta Light. J D Farm's homebred Dansetta Light was making her first start on turf for trainer David Brownlee and has since come back to capture the Dec. 12 Georgia Debutante, setting up a rematch Saturday.
Trainer Todd Pletcher also hopes to have a contender in the race in Peachtree Stable's Brazilian, who was impressive winning a maiden special test over the course Nov. 22 by eight lengths in her third career start.
"We just have to hope she gets in," said Pletcher. "We've thought a lot of her for some time." The daughter of Stravinsky was purchased for $500,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale. Brazilian is among 17 nominees to the Tropical Oaks and one of seven eligible for 'a race other than' allowance conditions that might need to win a 'shake' to get into the race if it is over- subscribed. Pletcher is also considering a start for Sumaya Us Stable's Chilean-bred Isola Piu Bella in Saturday's $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.
"She's going to work and then we'll decide. We're looking ahead to the Banshee Breeze (at Gulfstream on Jan. 23)." said Pletcher. Isola Piu Bella is a 4-year-old filly by Rich Man's Gold with a record of 11-6-2-0 in Chile for earnings of $158,360, including group I victories in her last three starts. She hasn't run since December last year, but has been working steadily toward her return. Leading contenders for the Stage Door Betty include Joseph V. Shields, Jr.'s grade I winner Passing Shot, trained by Allen Jerkens; Centaur Farm's Redoubled Miss, winner of the race last year; and Edmund Gann's Personal Legend, who captured the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct last out for trainer Bobby Frankel.