Proven multiple stakes winner Fort Loudon and the promising Bahamian Squall, two of the most exciting 3-year-olds based at Calder Casino & Race Course, took to the track Saturday morning as both continued preparations for an expected showdown in the $75,000 Unbridled Stakes, part of the Summit Preview Day program on June 9.
Fort Loudon, last seen winning the $75,000 In Summation Stakes on May 12, worked five-eighths over a fast track in 1:01.4 while Bahamian Squall covered the same distance in 1:03.6.
“For his last race, we just needed to get him back to sprinting,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “He took to it good. The natural progression would be to point towards the Summit of Speed, but I’m not ready to look past this race (the Unbridled) just yet.”
Fort Loudon is already a four-time local stakes winner that swept the 2011 Florida Stallion Stakes and has amassed over $378,000 in lifetime earnings. By contrast, Bahamian Squall didn’t make his career debut until February 2012 and has raced just four times, although his wins have been impressive, including a local nine-length allowance romp on May 6.
“After he won his first race, we kind of threw him to the wolves (in the Grade 3 Swale and $75,000 Sophomore Stakes at Tampa),” Bahamian Squall’s trainer Dave Fawkes said. “He got some of his confidence back with that last win.”
Another likely Unbridled participant, Hello Prince, lit up the Calder work tab Saturday morning when blazing a half-mile in :48, the fastest of 95 moves at the distance. In his last trip to the races, the Daniel Pita trainee crossed the wire second, two lengths in back of Fort Loudon in the In Summation.
“He works well over this track, and he runs well over this track too,” Pita commented.
RODRIGUEZ ENJOYS FOUR-WIN FRIDAY
The race for leading rider at Calder tightened on Friday as apprentice Joe Rodriguez visited the winner’s circle four times, briefly sharing the top spot in the table before ending the day one victory behind current leader Luis Saez.
Rodriguez secured the first of his four wins in the Friday opener when holding on determinedly aboard Penitant Prayers to win by a neck, holding off a game Three Part Harmony with Saez in the saddle. A neck would separate Rodriguez and Saez again in race three when Rodriguez and Pecky’s Boy came back on Saez and Master Tassel in the final yards to prevail.
Rodriguez then won race five with Dreaming of Danny before returning to win race eight with Gal Has to Like It, completing his four-win day and placing the rider in a tie atop the standings, albeit a brief tie as Saez would win race nine to regain the lead.
Heading into the three-day holiday weekend at Calder, Saez had found the wire first with 31 of his 142 mounts, with Rodriguez in close pursuit having prevailed 30 times with the same number of starters.