Trainer Milt Wolfson used the turf-to-dirt angle to his advantage when Stormy Frolic took to a fast track in winning Calder's $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap Saturday over 1 1/16 miles, the second stakes of the Grand Slam II event.
Jockey Jose Santos took Stormy Frolic, the longest shot on the board at 12-1, from the outside post to the lead early, but had a tight hold on the eager filly as she pressed the pace set by Small Promises on the rail. By the time they reached the half-mile point in :48, Santos could not keep her from the lead any longer. She opened up by two lengths as they entered the turn. Hand-ridden the entire way, she increased her lead to the wire.
The 3-year-old daughter of Summer Squall, who also added blinkers after running fifth without them in her last start, the Good Intentions at Calder Nov. 9, paid $27.60 to win in a time of 1:44. Favored Small Promises chased her home in second to pay $3.20 for the place with Redoubled Miss in third, returning $3.60.
Stormy Frolic had not won since last Jan. 2, when she took the Tropical Park Oaks at Calder. After three consecutive losses on turf, the switch to dirt was what she wanted. She won for the fourth time in her 18 career outings while earning $60,000 for winning owner Stride Rite Racing Stable. The purse increased her career bankroll to $217,673.
She was facing older fillies and mares for the first time in her career while carrying 112 pounds.
"I told everybody to forget her turf races," Wolfson said. "There just weren't any other spots for her here on the main track. I kept entering her in turf stakes hoping they would come off. You go back to her last race on dirt (Judy's Red Shoes), she ran dynamite off the layoff. Now there will be plenty of opportunities for her at Gulfstream on the main track."
Santos, who had made South Florida his home in the mid-1980s, had been the leading rider at the Tropical meeting in 1984-85.
"She ran a helluva race," said Santos. "Even I was surprised."