MIAMI -- If the nomination lists are any indication, the 2008 Summit of Speed could be the best in the eight-year history of the event. The Summit of Speed, which features four graded sprint stakes including the Grade 1 Princess Rooney, will be decided at Calder on July 12.
The $400,000 Princess Rooney and Grade 2, $400,000 Smile are Win and You're In races for this year's Breeders' Cup. Purses were cut by $300,000 for the Summit of Speed shortly after the meet began because of the lack of a purse contract between local horsemen and track management.
"I am very, very pleased at the nominations we've received for all four races," said racing secretary Mike Anifantis. "Quality-wise it's exceptional. Now the hard work starts: Trying to get them all here."
Among those nominated is the nation's premier sprinter, Benny the Bull, who is expected to run in the six-furlong Smile. Other notables nominated to the Smile include Indian Chant, Man of Danger, Abraaj, Bonfante, and Ravalo, along with locals Rockerfeller, Finallymadeit, Blue Pepsi Lodge, and Yesbyjimminy.
The leading candidates for the Princess Rooney, the only Grade 1 race on the Calder calendar, are Miraculous Miss, Dream Rush, Baroness Thatcher, Looky Yonder, Coco Belle, and Victorina.
Trainer Rick Violette confirmed that unless he has a problem with the weight assignments, Dream Rush will be here for the Princess Rooney. Dream Rush, a two-time Grade 1 winner last year at 3, finished second after opening a long lead entering the stretch of the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont on May 25. The Vagrancy was Dream Rush's first start since she finished fifth in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
"We were torn between staying in New York for the First Flight or coming down for the Princess Rooney, and decided if we are going to have any chance to win a championship with her this season we need to put some Grade 1s on the resume," said Violette. "Overall I was happy with her first race back. She ran well and got a little tired. But she's done very well since her last race, breezed terrific on Monday, and is ready to roll. This looks like a pretty good spot for a Grade 1, and even though they cut the purse, the money is still good."
Looky Yonder and Baroness Thatcher, first and third in the Vagrancy, are expected to stay in New York for the First Flight.
Nominees for the Grade 2, $250,000 Carry Back include the Zayat Stable trio of J Be K, Massive Drama, and Eatons Gift, as well as Carsons Legacy, Force Freeze, Salute the Sarge, Afleet Ruler, Sea of Pleasure, and Winsome Charm. Top locals nominated are Golden Spikes and Gentleman James.
Sobhy Sonbol, racing manager for the Zayat Stable, said that in all likelihood Massive Drama would represent the stable in the Carry Back, with J Be K pointing for the Jersey Shore at Monmouth Park. Massive Drama, Grade 1-placed last year at 2, is winless in four starts this season.
Massive Drama worked a half-mile in 47.40 seconds at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, sharing the bullet for the distance with Smile candidate Indian Chant.
The Grade 3, $250,000 Azalea will match two of the fastest 3-year-old fillies in North America, the undefeated Indyanne and Canadian speedster Dancing Allstar. Trainer Todd Pletcher has also nominated his unbeaten Tale of the West for the Grade 3 dash, although she's expected to run later this week at Belmont in the Prioress Stakes.
This time Golden Spikes gets it done
Golden Spikes worked a half-mile in 47.46 seconds here Tuesday. The breeze had been scheduled for Sunday but was postponed when Golden Spikes lost his rider and ran off for two miles shortly before he was to start the work.
With jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan aboard, Golden Spikes broke off five lengths behind his older stablemate Olympic, caught his target after completing an opening quarter in 22.96, then easily pulled away through the final furlong. Golden Spikes, runner-up in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby, is coming off a game head decision over Gentleman James in the Unbridled Stakes. He earned a career-best 104 Beyer.
"He didn't have the pony with him the other day," trainer Marty Wolfson said Tuesday, when asked what happened on Sunday. "The outrider saw he was getting tough with Bridge, headed towards him, but this horse sees things, ducked away, and that's when he lost the rider. I was really pleased with the work this morning. Olympic's a pretty nice horse and he handled him very easily."
Elvis Trujillo, who rode Golden Spikes in the Unbridled, will have the mount again in the Carry Back.
Wolfson will be busy on Summit of Speed Day, with Dixie Dreamer in the Princess Rooney and Rockerfeller in the Smile. He also nominated his Grade 2 winner Shes All Eltish for the Azalea but will instead run her the same afternoon in the Delaware Oaks.
Ziadie flexes his muscle
Like a basketball team that blows open a close game with a big run midway through the contest, Kirk Ziadie has blown open what had been a relatively close battle for the trainer title after winning seven races in two days here last week. He won five races on Friday's card and two on Saturday.
Ziadie, who captured both the Calder and Tropical at Calder titles in 2007, was three in front of a trio of pursuers before making his move. Ziadie's five winners on Friday equaled the single-day track record set by Arnold Winick in September 1972 and matched by Stanley Hough in May 1977.
When asked about winning five races on a single card, Ziadie said simply, "I got lucky."
Ziadie, who also won Saturday's Heckofaralph Stakes with Duke's Flying Tiger, plans to run several horses on the Summit of Speed card. Among his potential starters are Blue Pepsi Lodge and Paradise Dancer in the Smile, Rgirldoesn'tbluff in the Princess Rooney, and Dite Moi in the Azalea.