A pair of graded turf stakes will provide the proper sendoff to the Tropical Meet at Calder Casino & Race Course on Friday with Robert Harvey and Alan Wortman’s Hollinger expected to play the role of favorite in the $100,000 Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap, which attracted a competitive field of 11, and James Wigan’s Havant looking to be the public’s likely choice in the $100,000 Grade 3 La Prevoyante Handicap amongst a field of eight.
Trained by Roger Attfield, who won the Tropical Turf in 2008 with Spice Route, Hollinger was third in last year’s running of the nine-furlong race, and while the son of Black Minnaloushe hasn’t won a race since October 2011, the 5-year-old was beaten a half-length when second in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February and was bested a neck when an unlucky third in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine in June.
Last seen finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, Hollinger has drawn post eight for the Tropical Turf and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Starting from post one in the Tropical Turf is Brushwood Stable’s Philly Ace, who has visited the winner’s circle in three of his last five starts and captured the first stake of his career two outings ago when taking the $100,000 Alphabet Soup Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred horses at Parx Racing.
The Christophe Clement-trained son of Smart Strike has since returned to post a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct and will be ridden on Friday by Luis Saez.
Luis Duco Stables, Inc.’s Empire Builder is a three-time stakes winner at Calder this year, taking both the $55,000 Mambo Meister and the $55,000 American Dreamer on the main track before returning to score on the grass with a two-length triumph in the $55,000 Naked Greed.
Last seen finishing a distant second to subsequent Grade 3 Fred Hooper hero Csaba in the off-the-turf running of the Tropical Park Derby, Empire Builder starts from post nine in the Tropical Turf and will be ridden by Jesus Rios.
Prince Farm, LLC’s Dannhauser enters the Tropical Turf off a neck victory in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup for trainer Kathleen O’Connell, while Golden Goose Enterprises, LLC et al.’s Citrus Kid, runner-up in the 2010 running of the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap, will be making his first start since crossing the wire second in the 2012 PTHA President’s Cup.
Other notables in the Tropical Turf field include Harlequin Ranches’ three-time stakes-placed Good Better Best, Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s Bonnie Heath Turf Cup third-place finisher Alley Oop Oop, and Lori and George Hall’s two-time Grade 3 runner-up Sleepless Knight.
Completing the field is Mrs. S. K. Johnston, Jr.’s Hoofit, Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Scorcher, and Brushwood Stable’s Mr. Irons.
A Group 3 winner in her native England, Havant will look to give Clement his fifth winner in the La Prevoyante when starting from post eight in the 12-furlong co-feature restricted to fillies and mares.
A winner in her first two career starts, including a 2-year-old triumph in the Group 3 Sakhee Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket, the daughter of Halling was ambitiously campaigned in her sophomore season, starting with little success in both the Group 1 QIPCO One Thousand Guineas and the Group 1 Epsom Oaks.
The filly made two starts in France this year under the guidance of conditioner Freddie Head, finishing second on both occasions, before making a transatlantic voyage to Woodbine where she was fifth in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes.
Havant has drawn post eight for the La Prevoyante and will be ridden by Lezcano.
Michael B. Tabor’s promising 3-year-old filly Ciao Bella, last seen finishing second in the $125,000 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland, could prove the main obstacle in the way of Havant’s path to La Prevoyante glory when starting from post two for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez.
A daughter of Giant’s Causeway, and the final foal out of the quality mare Bella Bellucci, Ciao Bella tried turf for the first time in the Grade 1 Garden City and Belmont Park where she crossed the wire fourth, beaten two lengths for everything.
Charles E. Fipke’s Thislilsoulofmine, the fourth-place finisher in last year’s La Prevoyante, will look to improve upon that performance in the 2012 renewal when starting from post seven, while Earle I. Mack, LLC’s Clarinet enters the race off her first career stakes victory having prevailed in the $100,000 Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine in her last start.
Completing the field for the La Prevoyante is St Georges Farm’s Closing Range, winner of the Twin Light Stakes at Monmouth Park in August; Darley Stable’s Centring, whose trainer Tom Albertrani won the race in 2009 with Criticism and sent out Twilight Eclipse to upset the W. L. McKnight at Calder on Nov. 24; Felicity Waugh’s Peekablue Sue, a recent Calder turf allowance runner-up; and Tonys Investments, LLC’s My Pal Chrisy, a two-time winner of the Elmer Heubeck Distaff that is likely to run only if the race is moved to the main track.
First race post time at Calder on Friday, closing day, is 12:30 p.m. The La Prevoyante Handicap is scheduled as the seventh race of the afternoon at approximately 3:05 p.m. with the Tropical Turf Handicap slated to go as race 10 at 4:23 p.m.