While the $75,000 Kenny Noe, Jr. Handicap is technically the feature race at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday, the day’s spotlight is likely to fall upon the $55,000 Mike Sherman Memorial as Pinnacle Racing Stable and Bill Kaplan’s Eclipse Award winning female sprinter Musical Romance was among the 10 fillies or mares entered for the 6 ½-furlong dash.
Last seen locally winning the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap as part of the July 7 Summit of Speed program, the daughter of Concorde’s Tune competed just two weeks ago when travelling to Belmont Park for the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap where she crossed the wire third.
A career-earner of over $1.6 million and a four-time graded stakes winner, the 5-year-old mare is preparing for her title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on November 3, days before she is scheduled to enter the sales ring as part of the Fasig-Tipton November breeding stock sale.
A six-time winner over the Calder dirt, Musical Romance drew post four for the Mike Sherman Memorial where she is scheduled to team with regular rider Juan Leyva.
Looking to spoil the Breeders’ Cup preparations of Musical Romance, and likely race-favorite if the champion mare is scratched on Saturday, is Thoroughbred Futures Racing’s Nakano, third in the Princess Rooney and most recently a commanding winner of the $55,000 Connie Ann Stakes.
One of five fillies or mares entered in the race by trainer Marty Wolfson, Nakano is a two-time winner in five starts at Calder this year, with both of those triumphs coming in races that were originally scheduled for turf but were moved to the dirt following periods of inclement weather.
Also entered in the Mike Sherman by Wolfson was the Miller Racing, LLC-owned quartet of Bringingdown Babel, a 12-time winner in 19 career starts including victories in each of her last four; Nasty Rumor, who hasn’t started since a fifth in last October’s Grade 2 Indiana Oaks; Golden Mystery, last seen finishing seventh in the Princess Rooney; and Spectacular Sky, a highly-talented winner of three straight who has been cross-entered in the Kenny Noe, Jr.
Completing the field for the Mike Sherman Memorial is Gary Aiken’s Callmethesqueeze, Doble Jak Investment, LLC’s Flying Trip, Drake Smith’s White Merlot, and Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s Redbud Road.
As noted earlier, the Marty Wolfson-trained filly sprint sensation Spectacular Sky was cross-entered in the Mike Sherman Memorial and the Kenny Noe, Jr., Handicap, where she would meet male rivals for the second straight time.
In her most recent start, the Grade 3-placed daughter of Sky Mesa took apart her colt and gelding counterparts in the $55,000 Whippleton Stakes, running off to a 3 ¼-length victory, which was her third straight triumph following a disappointing 11th-place performance in the Princess Rooney.
Wolfson also has Stud El Aguila’s Indiano, runner-up in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint and early August winner of the $55,000 Giant Ryan Stakes, entered in the Kenny Noe, Jr.
Jockey Hugo Sanchez has been named aboard Spectacular Sky, while Luis Saez, that filly’s regular rider, is listed on Indiano.
Samuel H. Rogers, Jr.’s Close It Out, second to Spectacular Sky in the Whippleton and third to Indiano in the Giant Ryan, returns for the Kenny Joe, Jr., while GZS Stable, LLC’s Dual Exhauzt enters the race off a strong allowance win in late August.
Completing the field for the Kenny Noe, Jr. Handicap is Bluestone Thoroughbreds, LLC’s Black Diamond Cat and Annabel and William Murphy’s Duty Blues.
First race post time at Calder on Saturday is 12:30 p.m. with the Mike Sherman Memorial scheduled as race 10 at approximately 4:45 p.m. and the Kenny Noe, Jr. to follow as race 11 at 5:14 p.m.