John Oxley's Booklet and Sez Who Racing Stable's The Judge Sez Who, major 3-year-old stakes winners this season, face off against Bea Oxenberg's 7-year-old Best of the Rest and other older stars in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III). Jockey Jerry Bailey will be back aboard Best of the Rest, who could rule a slight choice in the field of eight set to go 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Trained by Eddie Plesa, Jr., the roan/gray homebred Skip Trial horse won the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic last out by 1 ½ lengths over The Judge Sez Who.Booklet will get plenty of support with Pat Day in the saddle for trainer John Ward, Jr. The son of Notebook has made only one previous start at Calder, but made quite an impression winning the $400,000 In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes last year for owners Philip and Marcia Cohen and trainer Steve Klesaris.Ward arranged for Oxley to purchase the colt privately and he yielded immediate returns winning the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. I) and Fountain of Youth (gr. I) at Gulfstream over Harlan's Holiday. After finishing fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and second in the Blue Grass (gr. I) at Keeneland, he never fired in the Preakness (gr. I) at Pimlico. Booklet didn't run again until Nov. 19 when he came back strong to win an allowance race at Churchill Downs over Rock Slide.The Judge Sez Who also was a star in the 3-year-old division this year, competing in five consecutive 'Derbies', winning the Oklahoma Derby (gr. I) at Remington Park and bringing back a check in each of the other five.Cornelio Velasquez gets the return call on The Judge Sez Who for Calder-based trainer Milt Wolfson. The homebred son of Judge T C stepped up from his 'Derby' trail campaign last out to finish a good second to Best of the Rest in the Carl Rose.
Completing the field for the Fred Hooper are Dancing Guy, Cool N Collective, Woodmoon, High Ideal and Sir Bear. Barbara Smollin's 9-year-old gelding Sir Bear has won over $2.5 million in his marvelous career but only a little more than $100,000 over the years over his home track at Calder.