Not once, but twice now, Richard Pell's Calculator is back for more.
For the second year in a row the 5-year-old son of In Summation has given his connections reason for hope after a long layoff.
The gray's issues have been well documented. In 2014 it was a foot injury that forced his scratch out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), in 2015 an ankle fracture derailed a potential Triple Crown run, and in 2016 nagging foot issues again put him on the bench during a year in which he was a head away from being a grade 1 winner in the Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
But he started 2016 with a game optional-claiming allowance win and did the same March 2 at Santa Anita Park, albeit on a different surface.
In his first start of 2017, Calculator tracked a slow pace in fifth in an optional-claiming allowance down the Santa Anita hillside turf course, cut the corner as others got out heading into the stretch, and just outfinished Cautious Giant on the inside to win by a head. His margin in his 2016 debut was a neck going seven furlongs on dirt.
"I'm relieved," said trainer Peter Miller, who has trained Calculator to three wins from 12 starts, $483,260 in earnings, a grade 3 win, and three grade 1 seconds. "He's blowing pretty good. He needed that race. I think he's going to move way forward off of this one."
Miller thinks Calculator has the potential to become a quality turf miler, as long as he remains healthy.
"He's had bad feet, he got sick on me, and a few years back he got scratched out of the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile, G1) with a bad foot," Miller said. "For the most part his feet are the problem. He's had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but thank goodness Rich Pell is a patient man."
In his only other turf start, Calculator finished third, two lengths behind grade 2-placed turf runner Metaboss , in a July optional-claiming allowance at Del Mar, which ended up being his final start of 2016. His main-track form shows a Sham Stakes (G3) victory in 2015, but also a tale of near top-level misses, with runner-up finishes behind American Pharoah as a juvenile in the 2014 Del Mar Futurity (G1) and FrontRunner Stakes (G1), and a head second to Salutos Amigos in the 2016 Carter.
"I'd really like to give him a shot to be a good grass horse," Miller said. "With bad feet, you'd like to think the grass is easier on their feet. I think he's got a chance to be a top miler on the grass, so that's the plan right now, but certainly dirt is an option."