While there are many trainers with multiple horses entered for Saturday’s Summit of Speed at Calder Casino & Race Course, trainer Martin D. Wolfson has the most horses slated for the stakes competition, 11, with one cross-entered. They are up for the challenge of the sprint distances.
Silverton Hill LLC’s Swagger Jack will break from post 8 with jockey Jose Lezcano aboard in the $350,000 Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap, a “Win and You’re In” race as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge for the sprint division.
The 5-year-old reached Grade 1 winner status two starts ago after he won back-to-back one mile allowance optional claiming races at Gulfstream Park, finished second to Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s Fort Loudon, who he will face again in the Smile Sprint, in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship Stakes, and second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, where Fort Loudon finished third. On April 6, Swagger Jack upset the Grade 1 Carter Handicap by coming from behind and taking the lead with one furlong remaining.
“His dirt races were super good; he had been running on turf as a young horse all his life but his dirt race here, luckily it came off the turf, and he won off by 10, and then I never ran him back on the turf,” Wolfson said.
Swagger Jack won in his first start for Wolfson at Calder last October in an allowance that was originally scheduled for seven and a half furlongs on the turf and was changed to one mile on the main track.
Bad racing luck reached Swagger Jack in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 27 in his most recent start where he finished seventh, the furthest he has finished since his first career race sixteen starts prior.
“He got knocked into the rail. He was turned sideways. That’s why Lezcano called and wanted to ride him because he rode the race on Fort Loudon and he was right behind it, he saw what happened,” Wolfson said. “The horse would have been right there. He might have won the Met.”
The Smile Sprint is a stepping stone for Swagger Jack as he prepares to run in a seven-furlong Grade 1 race at Saratoga Race Course later this summer.
“I plan on running him in the Forego in August and I needed a race in between without having to ship him anywhere,” Wolfson said.
The Smile Sprint will be run at six furlongs.
“Six furlongs is a little short though,” Wolfson said. “On the seven furlongs I would really like him. He’s just got to get moving early.”
With five entrants for the $350,000 Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap, Wolfson has about a 50 percent chance of scoring a record fourth victory in the Princess Rooney. He won back-to-back Princess Rooney’s in 1995 and 1996 with Miss Gibson County and Chaposa Springs, and in 2010 with Jessica Is Back.
All five runners were obtained by Wolfson’s owners after their careers were already well under way.
“Miller and myself, Farnsworth, we claim all these fillies just looking for stakes,” Wolfson said. “Like Jessica Is Back, we claimed her and she won the Princess Rooney.”
For the six-furlong stake, Gillian S. Campbell and Clint Cornett’s Givhans Ferry drew post 2 and has jockey Elmer Nunez named to ride. Farnsworth Stables, LLC’s Centrique is next to her in post 3 with jockey Eduardo Nunez aboard, while Miller Racing LLC’s Oh Carole drew post 4 and has Lezcano on her. Miller Racing LLC’s Spectacular Sky drew two posts over in post 6 and has jockey Luis Saez retaining the mount. Chasing Tails Stables LLC’s Starship Truffles drew post 10 and will have jockey Edgard Zayas aboard.
“I like to have a speed filly, I like to have a stalker, I like to have a closer, and I have all those,” Wolfson said.
In the U Can Do It Handicap, Givhans Ferry made her first start for Wolfson and finished seventh. He has changed the game plan for the 4-year-old filly for the Princess Rooney.
“I took the blinkers off; I think that can make a difference in her,” Wolfson said. “I just sent her to the lead last time and she went :21.2 with that other filly (Capitalism At Risk), :44, and she won’t be in front this time.”
Centrique is entered for the Princess Rooney and is also a main-track-only entrant for the $150,000 Hollywood Wildcat Stakes, scheduled for seven and a half furlongs on the turf.
“I think she’s better going a distance but with a set-up pace she might be good,” Wolfson said. “If it comes off turf I’ll run her in the Hollywood Wildcat.”
Oh Carole lost the U Can Do It by just a nose while closing to Amaty Racing Stables Inc.’s Capitalism At Risk, who is also entered in the Princess Rooney, and had to settle for second.
“I got some black type for her. She should have won. She got left at the gate,” Wolfson said. “That’s her style. I think Lezcano will help her.”
Wolfson said that Spectacular Sky is a very fast filly.
She has improved greatly since she finished last in the 2012 Princess Rooney in her first start for Wolfson.
“After that she reeled off like four-straight,” Wolfson said. “The only concern I have is she’s better going 7/8ths.”
In 2012, Spectacular Sky won an allowance optional claiming race at Calder before scoring back-to-back stakes wins in the Barb’s Dancer Stakes and the Whippleton Stakes at Calder. Two starts later, she took the Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. She most recently finished fifth in the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.
“The last race I ran her was in New York and she broke through the gate and ran off about 20 yards and they caught her, but she’s never done that before," Wolfson said.
Starship Truffles cruised in her most recent start on June 29 in a starter optional claiming race at five and a half furlongs. She finished sixth in the U Can Do It Handicap after easily winning the Musical Romance Stakes at Calder.
“Starship Truffles, she just kind of freaked,” Wolfson said. “She’s won like nine of 11. I didn’t like her race in the U Can Do It. She didn’t run well, and I knew it wasn’t a fair value, so I ran her back last week and if she won I was going to run (in the Princess Rooney). She did more than that – she opened up by 12 and won under wraps in 1:04, which is fast here, so that’s why I ran her back this week. I wouldn’t usually run back in a week.”
In the Grade 3 $150,000 Azalea Stakes at 6 furlongs, Silverton Hill LLC’s By Golly Molly will be making just her second career stakes appearance. Her most recent victory came in a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming race at Calder on June 22 in which she faced older mares and scored by ¾-lengths. She drew the rail for the Azalea and will have Lezcano aboard.
Miller Racing LLC’s Canadian Mistress is a main-track-only entrant for the Hollywood Wildcat. She drew post 4 and has Zayas named to ride. Wolfson said that Chasing Tails Stables LLC’s Lexington Pearl and Chasing Tails Stables LLC’s Ann of the Dance will run on the turf. Lexington Pearl drew post 8 with jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. aboard, while Ann of the Dance will break next to her from post 9 with Lezcano aboard in the Hollywood Wildcat. Lezcano is also named on Centrique, who drew post 10.
Silverton Hill LLC’s Simmstown will be making his debut with Wolfson in the $150,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Stakes at five furlongs on the turf and comes off of an almost two-year layoff. He will break from post 2 with Lezcano.