During a three-week span amid the waning months of summer 2011, Alex Lieblong’s Conway Two Step may have been the most promising juvenile filly on the Calder Casino & Race Course grounds.
After three failed attempts, the daughter of Spanish Steps had turned a corner with an impressive maiden win on August 27, and three weeks later on September 17, the filly led at every call to win the $90,000 Brave Raj Stakes by 2 ½ lengths. But following her Brave Raj heroics, the filly seemingly vanished, and will finally resurface in the $55,000 Regal Gal on Saturday.
“About one week after that race, I had to send her out for colic surgery,” trainer Dave Fawkes said. “It wasn’t anything major, but here we are almost nine months later and we’re just getting her back. It’s amazing what one setback can do. It just took a long time getting her ready.”
Conway Two Step left her Calder home on October 2, 2011, when shipped to Palm Beach Equine Clinic where the surgical procedure was performed. The filly was then sent to a farm in Ocala to recuperate, returning to her Miami Gardens stall in late December.
Unfortunately the filly proved unready for the rigors of racetrack life and on January 17 was sent north again to continue her rehabilitation, returning to Calder in early May.
“She spent time at Harold Queen’s farm to rehab, and that’s where they started getting her ready,” Fawkes said. “She came back down to us about month ago, and was already in good shape. She’s been doing really well ever since, and she just had a real nice breeze a couple of days ago.”
Despite already being a stakes winner, Conway Two Step still retains second-level allowance eligibility. But a race like that, restricted to 3-year-old fillies, can be difficult to fill, which left Fawkes with little option as to where his filly would make her return.
“The chances of getting an allowance race to go were slim, so we really had no choice but to go in the stake,” Fawkes said. “But this isn’t that terrible of a spot to bring her back.
“I know it’s been a long layoff and we’re asking her to go a mile, and obviously we have (Milt) Wolfson’s horse (Frolic’s Revenge) to worry about, but I think my filly has done really well getting ready for this. She’s a real nice horse.”
TRINNIBERG SETS SIGHTS ON NEW YORK; GIANT RYAN COULD FOLLOW
Two-time graded stakes winner Trinniberg put in his final morning prep work for the seven-furlong Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 9 when working five furlongs in :59.40 over a fast track at Calder on Wednesday morning.
“He came back super nice,” owner Shivananda Parbhoo said. “Did you see the breeze? It was unbelievable; he went so well.”
In his last start, Trinniberg crossed the wire 17th in the Kentucky Derby after contesting a brisk early pace.
“Once (jockey) Willie (Martinez) knew he wasn’t finishing in the top three that day, he went easy on him,” Parbhoo said. “And that’s why we’re able to make a race like this; the Derby didn’t take that much out of him.
“We’ll leave for New York tomorrow,” Parbhoo added. “I’ll drive him up myself.”
As of Thursday morning, Trinniberg was the only horse scheduled to board Parbhoo’s van on Friday, although a late addition is possible as Grade 1 winning sprinter Giant Ryan may also be New York-bound with the Grade 2 True North Handicap as a possible race destination.
The son of Freud is also nominated to the $75,000 Ponche Handicap at Calder. Both races run June 9.
“We’ll make a decision today, when we see the weights for both races,” Parbhoo said.
Giant Ryan, who hasn’t started since a fifth-place finish in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse in late March, was also on the Calder work tab Wednesday morning, covering a half-mile in :49.
CALDER TO OFFER MEGA 6 STARTING FRIDAY
Calder will unveil its new Mega 6 jackpot wager on Friday. The Mega 6 is a multi-race bet encompassing the last six races of the day with a progressive component designed to generate jackpot-size payoffs.
The Mega 6 is a 10-cent wager that plays like a traditional Pick 6 where the player must select the winner in each of the six participating races. Unlike traditional multi-race wagers, the Mega 6 jackpot is only awarded when one single 10-cent winning combination exists.
When such a ticket does not exist, 60 percent of the pool will be distributed equally among players selecting the most winners, while 40 percent of the pool enters the jackpot and carries over until won by a single 10-cent ticket.
The Mega 6 begins with the sixth race on Friday.