Helene and Stephen Weicholz' 3-year-old Kentucky bred colt El Kingdom found his way on the rail when turning for home to win the $56,000 Needles Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday. Jockey Luis Saez rode El Kingdom for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. The two teamed up earlier on the card to win the Judy's Red Shoes Stakes with Successful Song.
El Kingdom covered the mile and a sixteenth on the main track in 1:47.01, defeating Bernie the Maestro by 5 ¼ lengths. The Needles was originally scheduled for the turf course, but was moved to the main track due to rain. Tannersville finished in third place.
El Kingdom paid $14.40, $6.60, and $4.60. Bernie the Maestro returned $6.80 and $4.80, and Tannersville paid $4.80 to show.
Winning trainer's quotes:
Eddie Plesa, Jr. (via cell phone at Monmouth) - "He simply didn't handle the yielding turf course last out (6th in The Vid overnight). He's a big horse and the jock said he didn't feel comfortable at any point, but I'm still looking forward to getting him on a normal firm course, possibly the race in three weeks (Calder Derby on Oct. 16). Mr. and Mrs. (Stephen) Weicholz are great people to train for and paid a lot of money for this horse ($475,000 OBS March 2-year-old). It's good to see them get some return. It just took him some time to come around like some do."
Winning jockey's quotes:
Luis Saez - "This horse is so easy to ride, he lets me put him anywhere in the race that I want him to be. Today we just sat off of the pace a bit and made our move when it looked like the horse on the lead (Bernie the Maestro) was starting to come back to us. We passed him at the top of the stretch and when my horse changed leads, there was slight contact but nothing more than that."
Calder's signature event, the Festival of the Sun, is Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. The Festival of the Sun presents seven stakes races worth $1.13 million. Two of the stakes are the finals of the rich Florida Stallion Stakes. The Florida Stallion Stakes program, now in its 29th year, was created to promote Florida-bred Thoroughbreds and the $5 billion industry that supports them. The day also features the $75,000 Calder Derby (G3) and the $100,000 Spend A Buck Handicap (G3), a "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup challenge race.