Nominations for a trio of graded stakes to be run next week at Calder Casino & Race Course have been released with Stella Perdomo’s Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes winner Forte Dei Marmi topping the list of 16 horses nominated to the Grade 2 W. L. McKnight Handicap, Cheyenne Stables, LLC’s Grade 2 New York Handicap heroine Mystical Star leading the list of 24 fillies and mares nominated to the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap, and Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s 14-length Tropical Derby winner Csaba atop the list of 14 nominees to the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap.
Trained by Roger Attfield, who would be looking for his second straight win in the W. L. McKnight having claimed the 2011 running with Musketier, Forte Dei Marmi has earned over $430,000 this year. In addition to his victory in the Sky Classic, the 6-year-old son of Selkirk has finished third in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer and was beaten just a length when third in the $1.5 million Grade 1 Canadian International.
James S. Karp’s recent Grade 2 Fayette Stakes winner Newsdad, trained by Bill Mott, is also among the list of nominees for the McKnight Handicap, as is Walsh Racing, LLC’s Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes runner-up Center Divider, Team Block’s Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup hero Ioya Bigtime, and Casa Farms I, LLC’s 2010 race-winner Prince Will I Am. The W. L. McKnight, contested over 12 furlongs on turf, will be run Saturday, Nov. 24.
Conditioner Christophe Clement, who won the My Charmer Handicap in 1995 with Danish and in 2005 with Snowdrops, trains five of the 24 horses nominated to the 2012 renewal, including Mystical Star, a career-earner of over $385,000 that won the New York Handicap earlier this year and has since returned to finish second in both the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes and the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap.
Clement has also nominated George Bolton and Peter Leidel’s Group 3 winner Future Generation, James Wigan’s Group 3 winner Havant, Edward A. Cox, Jr.’s Grade 3 winner Naples Bay, and Guy Roxburghe’s Grade 3-placed Federation to the My Charmer, which will be run Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov. 22, at nine furlongs on turf.
Perhaps no winner on the Oct. 13 Festival of the Sun program at Calder was more impressive than Fred Hooper nominee Csaba, who won the Tropical Derby by 14 lengths and has prevailed in each of his last two appearances on the Calder main track, including an eight-length triumph in the $75,000 El Kaiser Stakes in July.
Trained by Phil Gleaves, Csaba also boasts a second-place finish in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes on the Saratoga turf course and was seventh when contesting the $1million Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.
Among those listed as possible challengers to Csaba in the Fred Hooper, to be run Saturday, Nov. 24, is Shivananda Racing’s Grade 3 Spend A Buck Handicap runner-up Ducduc, Roman Hill Farm’s multiple stakes winner I’m Steppin’ It Up, and Kinsman Stable’s recent Aqueduct allowance winner Bellamy Brew.
Nominations for the final two stakes of the Tropical Meet, the Grade 3 La Prevoyante restricted to fillies and mares at 12 furlongs on turf and the nine-furlong Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap, close Saturday, Nov. 17.
Both races will be run on closing day at Calder, Friday, Nov. 30.