Tropical Turf, My Charmer draw crowds
Sixteen horses’ names were dropped in the entry box for Saturday’s G3 $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder, with 12 in the main body of the field and four on the also-eligible list. Among those on the outside looking in is SOUPER SPECTACULAR, the three-year-old half-brother to Zenyatta that’s undefeated on the turf from three attempts. A graduate over Saratoga’s inner turf, he’s since won twice in allowance company at Keeneland and Aqueduct.
Even if Souper Spectacular fails to draw into the Tropical Turf, the nine-furlong feature has attracted a quality field that belies its relatively small purse. Group 1 veteran NEVER ON SUNDAY, runner-up in the G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and G3 Pan American Stakes last winter, will be making his second start off a long layoff, as will TWILIGHT METEOR, the 2009 G3 Canadian Turf Stakes hero who returned last month to finish third in his first race in nearly 20 months.
RAHYSTRADA, who took the G3 Arlington Handicap over the summer, will attempt to rebound from a subpar fifth in his G3 River City Handicap title defense. Also exiting that Churchill Downs feature is the Bill Mott-trained MIDNIGHT MISCHIEF, who was second that day at 8-1. G3 Fort Marcy Stakes winner BALETTI and former Canadian grass champion RAHY’S ATTORNEY (Crown Attorney) are among the other Northern invaders entering in respectable form.
The local Tropical contingent is led by the top three from the November 13 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup — PICKAPOCKET, BIM BAM and TANNERSVILLE. Another who should not be dismissed is stakes winner SINCERO, who is undefeated in two starts over the local sod.
The G3 $100,000 My Charmer Handicap for fillies and mares also drew an overflow field of 16 to go the same nine-furlong trip. The hot Chris Block barn will attempt to win its third graded stakes since Thanksgiving with ASKBUT I WON’TTELL, who broke through at this level in early November with a 1 1/4-length triumph in the G3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill.
MARY’S FOLLIES, one of the nation’s better sophomore turf fillies last season, returned from an 11-month layoff in the October 16 G3 Athenia Stakes where she finished three lengths behind in second. She can be expected to improve off that tightener for trainer Rick Dutrow. Also making her second start off the layoff is THE NIAGARA QUEEN, a Grade 2 winner in Canada in 2008.
MISS WORLD, winless since taking the 2009 G1 Garden City Stakes, might not seem as great a danger as three-time stakes vixen CHEROKEE QUEEN, who’s won both her starts over the Calder lawn. Another horse for the course is the speedy three-year-old TRIP FOR A. J., whose local mark is 4-3-0-1.
Other likely contenders are New York-bred ace YOU GO WEST GIRL and the Italian One Thousand Guineas heroine EVADING TEMPETE (GB), who ran second in a lucrative stakes in Turkey on September 4.