Soldier’s Dancer shipped out of South Florida to win the
Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita a year ago, rallying from last of 13 to
score a dramatic half-length victory over fellow traveler Presious Passion, and
will likely be a heavy favorite to repeat in the 1 1/8 miles event with regular
rider Manoel Cruz aboard for veteran horseman Dave Vivian.
The roan/gray son of Lost Soldier scored a repeat victory
in the $250,000 President’s Cup at Philadelphia
in September and captured the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup at Calder on Nov.
14 in his last two starts to push his career record to 32-12-8-4 and bankroll
past the $1.5 million mark.
Trainer Marty Wolfson won a memorable edition of the Turf
here in 2006 with Miesque’s Approval as a longshot with favorite Silver Tree
second as Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey’s final career mount. Wolfson sends
out a pair in Saturday’s renewal with Julien Leparoux to ride Farnsworth Farm’s
Jet Propulsion and Kent Desormeaux picking up the mount on Martin Cherry’s
Jet Propulsion is a 7-year-old gelding by Double Honor and
makes his first start for Wolfson after being claimed for $50,000 out of a
winning race at Calder on Dec. 12 when using his considerable early speed to go
wire-to-wire. He will be a threat again Saturday if left alone to dictate the
Pickapocket is a 6-year-old gelding by Mecke and was run
down late to finish second to Soldier’s Dancer in the Bonnie Heath Turf when
beaten only a half-length. He finished an even fifth last out in a one-mile
allowance tune-up over the course here on Jan. 3, beaten 4 ¼ lengths with some
trouble in the race.
Also a threat will be JoAnn and Alex Lieblong and partners’
4-year-old Duke of Mischief with Eibar Coa in the saddle for trainer David
Fawkes. He comes in after winning the ‘off the turf’ Fort Lauderdale
Stakes here on Jan. 10 over Kiss the Kid and Mambo Meister. Duke of Mischief is
a chestnut colt by Graeme Hall and scored his biggest victory in the Iowa Derby
last year after showing respectable turf form last winter.
Completing the field of 11 are John Eaton and Steve
Laymon’s Picou, Guy Francone’s Tie Rod, Derrick Smith’s Bad Action, Mac
Fehsenfeld’s Ballonenostrikes, Dennis Manning’s Roman Tiger, Isaac Muhtar’s
Fearless Eagle and Ashbrook Farm’s Wicked Style.