MIAMI -- Although the Summit of Speed has traditionally been a great event for local fans, it's not been kind to local horsemen, many of whom have become resigned to the fact that most of the big races, and the large purses that accompany them, will be won by out-of-town rivals.
There have been 26 graded races decided since the Summit of Speed began in 2000. Only three of those events were won by horses stabled regularly at Calder at the time. Weigelia became the first when capturing the Grade 3 Carry Back in 2004. Local runners also have been able to upset the two most recent editions of the Grade 2 Smile - Nightmare Affair in 2006 and Mach Ride last summer.
But Saturday's ninth edition of the Summit of Speed may present locals their best chance ever of taking home a large share of the $1.4 million in prize money up for grabs. This year, the home team has legitimate contenders in each of the four graded events on the card and may even have the favorite, Golden Spikes, in the Carry Back.
Trainer Marty Wolfson has never won a Summit of Speed race. But he has come close, finishing second on five occasions, including twice in 2006 with Prospective Saint in the Princess Rooney and Pomeroy in the Smile. Wolfson will send out starters in three of the four big races Saturday, led by Golden Spikes in the Carry Back, Rockerfeller in the Smile, and Dixie Dreamer in the Princess Rooney.
"I think the home horses do have an advantage here because of the heat and the deepness of the track," Wolfson said. "And when you see horses like Dubai Escapade and Xtra Heat get beat here over the years, you know anything can happen. The closest I came was with Vision in Flight, who just got beat by Gold Mover (2003) in the Princess Rooney. But I like the way all my horses are coming into these races Saturday. That's the main thing. They're all doing well."
Calder's leading trainer, Kirk Ziadie, also will be well represented in the Summit of Speed, with starters in the Azalea, Princess Rooney, and Smile. Ziadie sent out Paradise Dancer to finish second in the 2007 Smile.
"Two of my horses really stand out, Blue Pepsi Lodge in the Smile and Rgirldoesn'tbluff in the Princess Rooney," Ziadie said. "They'll both be big prices, but I expect them to run very well. Blue Pepsi Lodge just went too fast in his last start, but I've got Elvis [Trujillo] back on him Saturday and he knows him well. He won't let him go that fast. And the 10 pounds he gets from Benny the Bull is a significant amount of weight."
Ziadie also expects Rgirldoesn'tbluff to make her presence felt from the outset of the Princess Rooney.
"I knew she wasn't 100 percent coming into her last race," Ziadie said, referring to Rgirldoesn'tbluff's second-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in the U Can Do It Handicap four weeks earlier. "But that was her first start in a couple of months. She's 100 percent now. She's doing super. And from the outside post, she should break very fast. She's pretty one dimensional, and I'm not going to start experimenting with her now, so she should be clipping it pretty fast right from the start."