Jockey Manoel Cruz, the all-time leading rider at Calder Casino & Race Course with a combined total of 1,956 wins at the Calder and Tropical meets, will return to south Florida to ride on a regular basis beginning June 7. Cruz departed Calder to ride primarily in Kentucky for trainer Ken McPeek prior to the 2011 season.
“He’ll finish at Churchill on Sunday, and then he’ll be down here to ride starting next week,” Cruz’s new agent Dan Mellul reported. “Business was good up in Kentucky and he was riding well, but his family is still down here and he wanted to be near them. Kenny (McPeek) gave him his blessing, and said he would use him if he runs a horse down here, and then at the Gulfstream meet. That meant a lot to Manny.”
Cruz finished as a top-five rider in his first full Churchill meet in the spring of 2011, winning with 24 of 180 starters. And while those numbers dipped a bit in subsequent meets, Cruz continued to ride with success on the Kentucky circuit, twice finishing as a top-ten rider at Keeneland in addition to his Churchill achievements, while also riding with moderate success at the always difficult 2011 Saratoga meet.
“The response from the local horsemen has been great,” Mellul said. “A lot of the guys he rode for are excited about using him again, and Manny feels the same way. He is excited to come back and ride for them. Kentucky was real good to him, but he felt it was time to come home.”
Cruz won the Calder Meet riding title three times, in 2009, 2006, and 2003, and was a three time Tropical champion, wearing the crown in 2008-09, 2007-08, and 2005-06. Cruz is one of six riders to win 11 or more stakes during a single Calder Meet, and has won a combined 55 added-money events at the Calder and Tropical meets, fourth most of any rider.
SUMMIT PREVIEW PROSPECTS PUT IN FINAL PREP WORK
Several horses being pointed towards the June 9 Summit Preview Day program at Calder took to the main track Saturday morning to record their final official morning workouts in advance of next weekend’s stakes-laden card.
Ponche Handicap hopeful Western Prospector put forth the only bullet workout of the bunch, covering a half-mile in :47 for trainer Dave Fawkes. Fawkes also worked likely Ponche Handicap favorite Apriority a half-mile on Saturday, with the multiple graded stakes winner covering the trip in :48.
Fawkes figures to be prominent in three of the four Summit Preview Day stakes, and also worked the promising Unbridled Stakes hopeful Bahamian Squall five furlongs in 1:00.40, while his U Can Do It prospect Tamarind Hall covered the same distance in 1:00.20.
Hello Prince, who is likely for the Unbridled Stakes off a second-place performance in the $75,000 In Summation Stakes last month worked a half-mile in :48.60 for trainer Daniel Pita, while Dave Vivian sent Leave Me Alone possible Citizen Advocate to the track to work a half-mile in :48 on Saturday.
MY DUE PROCESS ARRIVES FOR SUMMIT PREVIEW
In other Summit Preview Day news, Priscilla Vaccarezza's My Due Process shipped to Calder on Friday in advance of a likely start in the Leave Me Alone.
The Dale Romans trainee won the $123,000 NATC Futurity at Monmouth Park last year and has since returned with a third-place performance in the $60,000 Madcap Escapade at Gulfstream. In her last start, the daughter of Henny Hughes crossed the wire sixth in the Grade 3 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on May 4.
ROMACACA TO CHICAGO; MAY RETURN FOR SUMMIT DAY STAKE
Grade 3 winner Romacaca, fourth when supplementing to the Grade 3 Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park last Monday, has been shipped to trainer Danny Miller at Arlington Park, joining a small string of Frank Calabrese-owned horses that have already been sent north to summer in suburban Chicago.
Trainer Luis Ramirez reports that the daughter of Running Stag may return to south Florida for the $100,000 Hollywood Wildcat on the July 7 Summit of Speed program at Calder.