Title defenses in the $125,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup by Robert Leibner’s Bad Debt and the $150,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff by Tonys Investments, LLC’s My Pal Chrisy highlight the 11th Florida Million Day at Calder Casino & Race Course Saturday, an afternoon featuring eight stakes restricted to registered Florida-bred horses and named in honor of Florida racing dignitaries totaling $1 million in purse money.
Trained by Mike Trombetta, Bad Debt shipped to Florida from New York to win the 2011 Bonnie Heath and will look to follow a similar route when attempting to tally back-to-back renewals of the nine-furlong turf test.
A consistent runner that has finished no worse than third in each of his last 18 starts, Bad Debt, who was third behind recent Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike in this year’s Sunshine Millions Turf, will start from post three in the eight-horse Bonnie Heath and will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, who was aboard the son of Grand Reward for his 2011 victory.
Returning to challenge Bad Debt for Bonnie Heath Turf supremacy is John Eaton and Steve Laymon’s Picou, last year’s runner-up who has not run since, along with Dennis Manning’s Roman Tiger, who crossed the wire third in the 2011 running but was disqualified and placed sixth for impeding with another rival in the stretch.
Picou, who runs for trainer Dave Fawkes, will start from post two under Paco Lopez while Roman Tiger, conditioned by Manning and winner of the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes earlier this year, will be guided from post eight by Joe Bravo.
The Tony Lutchman-trained My Pal Chrisy, surprise winner of last year’s Elmer Heubeck Distaff, will have to defeat eight rivals, including a pair of recent graded stakes-placed runners, if she is to repeat in 2012.
The daughter of Alex’s Pal, a six-time winner over the Calder main track that was last seen finishing second in the $75,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap will try and defend her title from post four in the 1 1/16-mile race with Luca Panici to ride.
Live Oak Plantation’s Successful Song, second in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Stakes two starts ago and most recently third when favored in the $75,000 Lady’s Secret at Monmouth Park, will look to improve upon her fourth-place performance in last year’s Elmer Heubeck for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr.
The daughter of Successful Appeal drew post five and will be ridden by Angel Serpa, who won both finals of the Florida Stallion Stakes when last seen competing at Calder in October.
Mark Hoffman and Earl Trostrud, Jr.’s Hooh Why, a Grade 1 winner during her juvenile season and runner-up in both the Grade 3 Ontario Matron and the Grade 3 Arlington Matron this year, was assigned post seven for the Elmer Heubeck and will be ridden by recent Breeders’ Cup Sprint-winning jockey Willie Martinez.
Larry Fugate’s Cash Rules, a four-time stakes winner at Calder this year including a victory in the Grade 3 Spend A Buck Handicap in his last start, headlines a field of six that will assemble for the $150,000 Carl G. Rose Handicap.
Trained by Dave Fawkes, the son of Peace Rules enters the Carl Rose on a three-race winning streak, adding successive victories in the $75,000 Darn That Alarm and the $55,000 Band Is Passing to his recent Spend A Buck score.
Cash Rules will start from post three under Luis Saez in the 1 1/8-mile Carl Rose where he will meet Centaur Farms, Inc.’s recent allowance winner Megamove along with Jessica Colon’s Miami Mile Handicap hero Imperial Czar.
The most contentious race on the Florida Million Day card looks to be the $125,000 Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap, a six-furlong dash that drew a field of 10, five of which exit winning performances with the other five entering the race off runner-up efforts.
GZS Stable, LLC’s Dual Exhauzt enters the Jack Dudley off two straight victories, most recently taking the $75,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap, while Frank C. Calabrese’s Bull Dozer has visited the winner’s circle following each of his last three outings while winning those races by a combined 15 lengths.
Also slated for a start in the Jack Dudley is Shadybrook Farm, Inc. and Robert Eversole’s stakes-placed Cajun Breeze, Shivananda Racing’s recent allowance winner Off the Jak, and Donald Dizney’s Unbridled Stakes runner-up Bahamian Squall.
A pair of main track tests for 2-year-olds will be run as part of the Florida Million Day program with David Melin and Laurie Plesa’s two-time stakes winner Brave Dave scheduled to meet just five foes in the seven-furlong $125,000 Jack Price Juvenile, while West Point Thoroughbreds’ Grade 1 Frizette third-place finisher Toasting is set to face nine rivals in the seven-furlong $125,000 Joe O’Farrell Juvenile Fillies.
Juvenile runners will also take to the turf on Florida Million Day, with Gilbert Campbell’s impressive turf-maiden winner Reporting Star among the field of 10 entered for the 1 1/16-mile $100,000 Arthur I. Appleton Juvenile Turf and Florida Stallion Stakes My Dear Girl heroine Verso a Verso the headlining name in the 11-horse John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf.
First race post time at Calder on Saturday is 12:30 p.m. The eight stakes that make up the Florida Million Day program will begin with the Jack Price Juvenile as race four at approximately 1:47 p.m. and will be run in succession concluding with the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup as race 11 at 4:49 p.m.