Big names set for Summit of Speed
MIAMI -- Nominations for the eight stakes on the $2 million Summit of Speed program do not close until Saturday, but Calder racing secretary Mike Anifantis has already received confirmations from some big names for all four graded stakes on the July 7 card, including the $500,000 Smile Sprint and $500,000 Princess Rooney handicaps.
The biggest names on Anifantis's list of shippers for the Summit of Speed card are Smokey Stover and Fabulous Strike, who are expected to meet in the Smile.
Fabulous Strike has emerged from the relative anonymity of Mountaineer Park to become one of the premier sprinters in the United States. He posted Beyer Speed Figures ranging from 115 to 119 during a four-race win streak that began last fall in West Virginia. Trainer Todd Beattie confirmed Fabulous Strike would be pointed for the Smile immediately following the horse's two-length victory over Cougar Cat in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 2.
Cougar Cat also is expected to be among the nominees for the Smile Sprint, although Anifantis said trainer Ronny Werner has said he is not likely to make the trip to south Florida if Fabulous Strike comes.
Trainer Greg Gilchrist, whose Eclipse Award winner Lost in the Fog made the final start of his career in the 2006 Smile, will be back this summer with Smokey Stover. Like Fabulous Strike, Smokey Stover is on a four-race win streak. It includes a 4 1/2-length victory over Greg's Gold in Santa Anita's Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap on April 7.
"I decided before the Potrero Grande that we'd point for the Smile," said Gilchrist who already owns two Summit of Speed victories. "After all, how many half-million-dollar sprint races are there?"
Defending champion Nightmare Affair, who has not started since finishing 15th in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, could return. Last year he outfinished Pomeroy and Weigelia, who also is likely to be back for the Smile. Coach Jimi Lee, a 16-time career winner, and local division leader Mach Ride are among the other prospective starters for the Grade 2 event.
Anifantis said he is expecting nominations from Pussycat Doll, Mary Delaney, G City Gal, Wildcat Bettie B, Shaggy Mane, and Maryfield for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney.
Pussycat Doll would almost certainly go favored if trainer Bob Baffert decides to ship the three-time Grade 1 winner from California for the six-furlong Princess Rooney.
"I expect nominations for all eight races to be very strong when they close Saturday," Anifantis said. "We had 21 horses ship in for the Summit of Speed last year and our goal is to hopefully bring 22-24 in this year."
Allowance serves as J J'sdream prep
Friday's featured eighth race, a $30,000 allowance dash for 2-year-old fillies, should produce a couple of likely starters for the $100,000 J J'sdream Stakes on the Summit of Speed undercard. A field of six juvenile fillies will go five furlongs, led by Cherokee Beauty, who won her maiden by 3 1/2 lengths on June 5. Her winning time of 52.60 seconds was the fastest recorded at 4 1/2 furlongs here this spring.
Other top contenders include Excessive Heat, Ben's Tune, and Crimson Ore.
Drums of Thunder back to turf
Drums of Thunder, runner-up to Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes this winter at Gulfstream Park, will return to the grass, weather permitting, for Saturday's main event: the $50,000 Lord Juban Stakes. Drums of Thunder, idle since finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 3, was scratched from Sunday's six-furlong Valid Video Stakes, which was decided over a sloppy main track.
The 1 1/16-mile Lord Juban also features the return of Pickapocket, winner of the Pilgrim Stakes at 2, who will make his first start since Feb. 24 and first under the tutelage of trainer Marty Wolfson.