For all you speed freaks out there, the wait is nearly over. That’s right, the Summit of Speed is almost upon us. Though Saturday is unlikely to bring with it cooler temperatures, if you stand close enough to the rail at Calder Race Course, you are quite likely to be blessed with a cool breeze as the Summit of Speed entrants streak past you, dashing for the wire. I, for one, would be glad of that particular breeze since temperatures in the Midwestern and Southern states have soared into triple digits. A complete break from the heat is not going to happen, though, since even though you may catch a cool breeze, the pace on the track is most likely going to be red hot. Saturday’s card includes six stakes races, all 7.5 furlongs or less, with four of them being graded.
The Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Stakes at five furlongs kicks off the stakes action. The race drew a large field of 9 colts and geldings plus a filly and a mare, for a total of 11 entrants. Uno Caliente was made the lukewarm morning line favorite at odds of 3-1.
The G3 Carry Back Stakes for three-year olds going 6 furlongs kicks off the graded stakes action. The race attracted a field of 7, and should Parboo opt to run Trinniberg here rather than in the Smile Sprint, then the dark bay Teuflesberg colt will go to post as the 6-5 morning line favorite. Fort Loudon, winner of the Carry Back prep Unbridled Stakes and second choice at 9-5 on the morning line, will be Trinniberg’s biggest opposition. A horse for course, Fort Loudon boasts a record of 9: 6-0-2 over the Calder course. As a 2-year old, the Awesome of Course colt swept the Florida Stallion series, and as a 3-year old, Fort Loudon is undefeated at Calder. These two colts should finish 1-2, a theory supported by the morning line numbers on the rest of the field.
The G3 Azalea Stakes for three-year old fillies going 6 furlongs is headed by Another Romance, winner of the Leave Me Alone Stakes, the local Azalea prep, by a neck. Despite winning the prep race, she is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line; Citizen Advocate, the runner up in the same race, was installed as the 5-2 favorite. Say A Novena, runner up in a pair of graded stakes races at Gulfstream Park, will likely be the top pair’s biggest threat.
The G2 Smile Sprint Handicap, a Win and You’re In event for the Breeder’s Cup Sprint, drew a competitive of 10, including local favorite Apriority. Field Commission, winner of the local prep the Ponche Handicap, drew away to a 3 ¼ length victory in his first start at a track other than Woodbine. A 7-year old chestnut son of Service Stripe, Field Commission is a Grade 2 winner and has lifetime earnings of more than $1 million. Apriority ended last year on a good note, winning the G3 Mr. Prospector Stakes on New Year’s Eve, notching his first graded victory in the process. Since then, however, he has not been able to find the winner’s circle and was most recently 6th in the Ponche Handicap as the favorite. Should Trinniberg start here rather than in the Carry Back, he stands just as good a chance of winning as Field Commission. Like the morning line favorite, Trinniberg has only had one start at Calder, a 5 furlong maiden special weight that he won going away. Gantry is the only out-of-town shipper.
The big race of the day is the G1 Princess Rooney Handicap, the only Grade 1 race featured at Calder. One of the big stories of this race is trainer Marty Wolfson; he sends out 6 fillies and mares in the hopes of knocking off reigning Female Sprint Eclipse winner Musical Romance, who was runner-up in the G1 Humana Distaff Stakes last out. A very deserving favorite, Musical Romance (5-2) faces Bouquet Booth (6-1) and Nicole H (3-1), as well as stable mate Wild Bout Tiffany, winner of the local prep for the Rooney, the U Can Do It Stakes. Despite winning the local prep, the presence of Musical Romance, Bouquet Booth, and Nicole H booted Wild Bout Tiffany up to 15-1 on the morning line. Nicole H and Bouquet Booth are two of only four out-of-town starters to ship down for the Summit of Speed. Despite the Princess Rooney’s Grade 1 status, most horsemen are reluctant to face Musical Romance, though that does not seem to be an issue for locally based Wolfson.
Rounding out the action at Calder is the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes, a 7.5 furlong turf race for fillies and mares three and upward. Speak Easy Gal, a Wolfson trainee, was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite and will face up to 10 others depending on where Beloveda, another Wolfson trainee, runs; Beloveda is cross-entered in both the Princess Rooney and the Hollywood Wildcat.
Though the Summit of Speed drew mostly locally based starters, there is still plenty of talent featured in Calder’s marquee event. Trinniberg looks to be tough no matter which race he starts in, and Musical Romance will be hard to beat in a race she only lost in the final strides of last year’s edition. If Trinniberg should go in the Carry Back, I look for Apriority to get back on track in the Smile Handicap. He has faced a couple of obstacles this year, but I, for one, have not lost faith in him.
There you have it folks! Six sprints to get the heart racing and the blood pumping! If, like Ricky Bobby, your mantra is, “I wanna go fast,” then be sure to tune in for the Summit of Speed. If that doesn’t satisfy your speedy tendencies, then nothing will.