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Fernando Po plays role of spoiler

12/12/2006

Calder Race Course, 5th Race - Dec. 9, 2006

MIAMI -- Fernando Po and jockey Rafael Bejarano spoiled what was nearly a perfect day for Rene Douglas on Saturday, when they outfinished Douglas and 3-5 favorite Soldier's Dancer by a head in Saturday's $100,000 Kissin Kris Stakes at Calder.

Douglas had already won the first two stakes on the card, the $100,000 Cherokee Frolic aboard Rutherienne and the $45,000 Mel's Hope on Croton Road. He appeared to be headed for a sweep of the afternoon's three turf stakes when he eased Soldier's Dancer off the rail and found a seam between the leaders in early stretch. But Bejarano had guided Fernando Po to an even better trip along the hedge, slipping through inside a tiring World War to gain command leaving the eighth pole, and he had just enough left to withstand Soldier's Dancer's closing bid.

Storm in May, who stalked the pace from the outset, finished third.

Fernando Po, a 2-year-old son of Johannesburg, is trained by Michael Hushion for owner Barry K. Schwartz. He paid $19 and covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.60 over a "good" course.

Earlier in the day, Douglas rallied Rutherienne from last after the opening half-mile to a three-quarter-length win over Perfect Motion. The win was the second in as many starts for Rutherienne, a homebred daughter of Pulpit owned by Virginia Kraft Payson and trained by Christophe Clement. Rutherienne returned $5.20 as the favorite in a field of eight juvenile fillies. She ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.67.

"She's been a pleasant surprise," said Clement. "She never showed that kind of ability working in the morning. I wasn't even planning on running her in this race, but she was doing well, and on paper it didn't appear the stakes was coming up too strong. The pace was not that fast, but she's got a nice turn of foot. She reminds me of another small filly Rene won a stakes on for me here several years ago. Her name was Voodoo Dancer. Hopefully this filly will turn out to be just as good."

In the Mel's Hope, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds, Croton Road rallied from just behind the dueling leaders and scored a 2 1/4-length win. Last Best Place, part of a three-horse entry from the barn of Barclay Tagg, withstood early pressure to finish second, a neck before the late striding Fancy Silver. Gimme Credit, the 8-5 favorite, finished fourth.