Band Is Passing, Babae Top Calder's Grand Slam

The Calder racing season hits high gear Saturday with the track's first of two Grand Slam stakes programs.

Band Is Passing, Babae, Two Item Limit, Volga and Tour Of The Cat are among the marquee names that will run in the four stakes worth $100,000 each, three of them graded events.

Band Is Passing & Dawn Of The Condor Top Tropical Turf
Stanley Ersoff's resident turf stakes star Band Is Passing seeks a repeat of his victory last December in the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT). The 6-year-old homebred will have Cornelio Velasquez aboard in the 1 1/8- mile turf test.

Trained and bred by his owner, Band Is Passing has 13 victories and seven seconds in 29 starts with multiple graded stakes victories. Ersoff gave him the late spring and summer off to get ready for another campaign.

Band Is Passing, the high weight at 121 pounds, drew the far outside post 12, and will face a new rival in Rich Meadow Farm's Dawn Of The Condor, next in the weights at 116 pounds with jockey Jorge Chavez.

Trained by Gary Sciacca, the 5-year-old chestnut by Twining was a stakes winner at 3 and won his only start at 4 for trainer Michael Dickinson. Placed with Sciacca in New York this summer, he scored his biggest career victory last out winning the Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct on Nov. 2.

$100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. III, race 11, 4:45 p.m.), 3 & up, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 Link to Jimmy (KY), 113, Julio A. Garcia
2 Super Power (BRZ), 112, Manoel R. Cruz
3 Krieger (KY) , 113, Eibar Coa
4 Stokosky (FL), 113, Javier Castellano
5 Autonomy (IRE), 112, Gary Boulanger
6 Perfect Soul (IRE), 114, Robert C. Landry
7 Serial Bride (KY), 114, Christopher P. DeCarlo
8 Crash Course (KY), 114, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
9 Dawn of the Condor (KY) , 116, Jorge F. Chavez
10 Illusionary (KY), 112, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
11 Zloty (MD), 112, Carlos Gonzalez
12 Band Is Passing (FL), 121, Cornelio H. Velasquez
AE Three Wonders (KY), 112, Gary Boulanger
AE Dr. Brendler (MD), 112, Rosemary B. Homeister, Jr.
AE Love the Game (FL), 111, Jorge F. Chavez

Babae & Clement Duo Duel in My Charmer Handicap
The $100,000 My Charmer Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf attracted a talented field of 10 for Saturday's renewal.

Trainer Frank Alexander sends out Joseph Platt, Jr.'s Chilean-bred Babae as the 121-pound high weight and probable favorite with Jorge Chavez, who has been aboard for victories in the Violet Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Meadowlands and Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct in her last two starts.

The 6-year-old daughter of Barkerville also won the Athenia in 2001 as well a thriller by a neck over Tates Creek in the Just a Game Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Belmont in June. Her career earnings stand at nearly $750,000.

Clement, who won the 1995 My Charmer with Danish, sends out a formidable team of Antonia Devin's Strawberry Blonde and Joe Allen's Volga, Irish breds to be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez and Norberto Arroyo, respectively.

Strawberry Blonde is a roan/gray 4-year-old that rallied strongly in the stretch to finish second behind Babae in the Athenia..

Volga was a group stakes winner in France for trainer Elle Lellouche as a 3-year-old last year and just missed when second in her North American debut in the 2001 E.P. Taylor (gr. IT) at Woodbine.

Helen Alexander and partners' 4-year-old Amelia with jockey Javier Castellano will be the big question in the field.

Trained by Shug McGaughey, the well-bred daughter of Dixieland Band out of turf stakes star Aquilegia recently returned to competition with a fourth-place effort over the course on Nov. 9. It was her first start since winning the France s A. Genter here last December.

$100,000 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT, race 8, 3:27 p.m.), fillies & mares, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 Halo of Truth (FL), 109, Sebastian O. Madrid
2 Volga (IRE), 115, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
3 Amelia (KY), 114, Javier Castellano
4 Strawberry Blonde (IRE), 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
5 Wander Mom (KY), 114, Eibar Coa
6 Queue (KY), 114, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
7 New Economy (KY), 113, Rosemary B. Homeister, Jr.
8 Abuela Esther (URU), 113, Manoel R. Cruz
9 Two Item Limit (IL), 114, Manuel Aguilar
10 Babae (CHI), 121, Jorge F. Chavez

Tour Of The Cat the One to Beat in Kenny Noe, Jr.
Double G Stable's 4-year-old Tour Of The Cat is the probable favorite in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up entered in the $100,000 Kenny Noe, Jr. Handicap at seven furlongs with regular rider Abad Cabassa, Jr. aboard.

Trained by Myra Mora, the Tour d'Or gelding has emerged the leader of the local sprint division this year and has won four of his last five starts, including the Jack Dudley Sprint here on Florida Million day.

Tour Of The Cat faces a fresh challenge from Tom Mina's 3-year-old New York invader No Parole, with Cornelio Velasquez taking the call. The son of Lit de Justice was developed and trained by Joe Aquilino, but has been sent to locally-based Richard Ciardullo, Jr. for this one race.

$100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (race 9, 3:53 p.m.), 3& up, 7 furlongs
PP Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 Built Up (FL), 114, Eibar Coa
2 Juggernaut (KY), 112, Abel Castellano, Jr.
3 Sea of Tranquility (NJ), 118, Jose C. Ferrer
4 High Ideal (NJ), 116, Manoel R. Cruz
5 No Parole (NY), 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
6 Tour of the Cat (FL), 121, Abad Cabassa, Jr.
7 Sweeping Smoke (FL), 112, Manuel Aguilar

Away & Sugar N Spice Highweights for Chaposa Springs
Robert N. Clay's Away and Barry Croft's Sugar N Spice will be the high weights at 117 pounds among eight fillies and mares entered in the $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap (gr. III) at seven furlongs.

Away will ship in from Payson Park for trainer John Kimmel and will be ridden by Chris DeCarlo. The 5-year-old Dixieland Band mare finished third last time in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in October.

Sugar N Spice is a 7-year-old homebred daughter of Strike the Anvil and has been a major factor in the filly and mare sprint division here for some time. Cornelio Velasquez regains the mount on the winner of more than $400,000, most of it earned in 45 career starts over the track.

Chaposa Springs Handicap (gr. III, race 10, 4:19 p.m.), fillies and mares, 7 furlongs
PP Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 Away (NJ), 117, Christopher P. DeCarlo
2 Sugar N Spice (FL), 117, Cornelio H. Velasquez
3 Abundantly Blessed (KY), 114, Julio E. Felix
4 Rule Brittania (FL), 113, Jorge F. Chavez
5 Mimi's Tizzy (CA), 115, Manoel R. Cruz
6 Chispiski (FL), 115, Julio A. Garcia
7 Platinum Tiara (KY), 115, Tom G. Turner
8 Interest Only (KY), 115, Eibar Coa