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Calibrachoa Looks Tough in Tom Fool

With three consecutive sprint victories at Aqueduct Racetrack to his credit, Repole Stable’s Calibrachoa stands out in Saturday’s 36th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap.

 

Throughout most of its history, the six-furlong Tom Fool, which was on hiatus in 2010, has been run at Belmont Park, and returns to Aqueduct for the first time since 1976, joining the Gotham Day card as the fifth of 11 races. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who captured the 2009 running with multiple-graded stakes winner Munnings, will attempt to defend his title with a pair of Tom Fool entrants for Repole Stable, with Have You Ever set to join his stablemate in the starting gate.

 

Owner Mike Repole recently claimed both horses at Aqueduct, taking Calibrachoa for $40,000 out of a winning effort in a six-furlong claiming race on November 18, and Have You Ever for $50,000 out of a second-level optional claimer on January 9.

 

“Calibrachoa came onto my radar because Bruce Golden and David Jacobson claimed a horse named Black Pen off me in Saratoga this summer and in his next start he ran against Calibrachoa,” Repole said. “Black Pen was 32-1 and he beat Calibrachoa by a half-length at the wire. When I saw Calibrachoa in for $40,000 the next time, I claimed him, and I’d like to thank Bruce and David for taking Black Pen, because if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t have Calibrachoa.”

 

Previously trained by Steve Asmussen, the 4-year-old Southern Image colt swiftly recouped most of his purchase price when he stepped into stakes company in his first start for Pletcher to win the $65,000 Gravesend on December 18, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103. He then prevailed by a half-length in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 22, his first attempt in graded company.

 

“He’s a real professional, generous horse,” said Jonathan Thomas, Pletcher’s assistant. “It was an astute claim and he came to us in excellent shape. He’s campaigned up to this race like we wanted, and he seems to be happy wherever the race puts him.”

 

New York’s leading rider Ramon Dominguez, who guided Calibrachoa to victory in the Toboggan, has the return call aboard the even-money morning-line favorite and 119-pound highweight from post position 6.

 

Have You Ever will break from post 3 with Victor Santiago as he makes his first foray into stakes company. Off for nearly seven months prior to being claimed by Repole, the son of Van Nistelrooy most recently was sixth after dueling with the pacesetter in a six-furlong optional claimer at Aqueduct on February 11.

 

“He was so keen during that race and we hope he can relax a little more in his next start,” Thomas said. “He had a great work on Saturday [4f in 48.42 over the Belmont training track.].”

 

The 2010 Jimmy Winkfield winner, Deputy Daney, returns from Maryland for a start in the Tom Fool, bouncing back quickly from a 1 ¼-length score in the Always Run Lucky overnight stakes at Aqueduct on February 13.

 

Trainer Hugh McMahon claimed the 4-year-old son of Officer for $25,000 at Laurel Park on January 7, when the gelding missed by just three-quarters of a length. In his previous start at Laurel, Deputy Daney won a $15,000 claimer by 11 lengths.

 

“I liked the way he won that day, and I saw that he had just gotten beaten at Aqueduct in his race before that,” said McMahon, who trains the horse for Danny Limongelli. “It’s always competitive in New York, and he has some back class.”

 

Deputy Daney, who is two-for-two going six furlongs over the inner track, drew the rail under Jeremy Rose as the 4-1 morning-line third choice.

 

West Point Thoroughbreds’ Flat Bold seeks his second victory in as many starts this year, having taken an allowance optional claimer at the Tom Fool distance on January 28. Eddie Castro has been named to ride the 2-1 morning-line second choice from post five.

 

Supplemental nominee Dahlgren Chapel has won both of his 2011 starts and enters the Tom Fool off an allowance score at the Big A on February 10.

 

“He’s really improved this year after a vacation at Kenny Lejeune’s farm in Ocala,” said Artie Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “Kenny has really taken this horse under his wing and we think this is a good opportunity to step it up a little and take a shot.”

 

Fastus Cactus, who finished fourth to Dahlgren Chapel on February 10, completes the field from post 2.

 

The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool:

 

Program No.

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

3

Have You Ever

V Santiago

113

T A Pletcher

Even

1a

6

Calibrachoa

R A Dominguez

119

T A Pletcher

Even

2

1

Deputy Daney

J Rose

115

H I McMahon

4-1

3

2

Fastus Cactus

J L Espinoza

112

N Chatterpaul

20-1

4

4

Dahlgren Chapel

D Cohen

114

K P McLaughlin

8-1

5

5

Flat Bold

E Castro

114

T Albertrani

2-1

 

 

 

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