Trainer Kirk Ziadie will send two of his top runners in the Summit Preview at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday – Averill Racing LLC and Silver Oak Stable LLC’s R Free Roll and Acclaimed Racing Stable’s Mr. Baker.
The 4-year-old filly R Free Roll faces fillies and mares in a field of nine in the $65,000 U Can Do It Handicap that kicks off the Summit Preview; while the 5-year-old horse Mr. Baker challenges five colts and a gelding right after in the $65,000 Ponche Handicap. Both races are slated for six furlongs.
“They’re both great,” said Ziadie. “They’re both training excellent and I’m looking forward to having a big day on Saturday. Hopefully I get a little luck and everything works out fine.”
R Free Roll has two stakes wins at Calder already on her resume.
In last year’s Summit Preview, R Free Roll faced the boys in the 6-furlong Unbridled Stakes for 3-year-olds where she annihilated the boys, winning the race by 6 ¾ lengths. She then went into the Summit of Speed and faced the boys yet again in the 6-furlong Grade III Carry Back Stakes and finished fifth. Since then, R Free Roll has stuck primarily to races reserved for fillies.
“Last year looking at the form and looking at the horses that we were against, I didn’t see much speed in the race and I knew I would come in really lightweight against the boys, so I decided to run her against them,” said Ziadie. “I thought that was the better spot for her at the time. This time I looked over both races and I think that the fillies race fits her better than running her against the boys.”
R Free Roll’s other Calder stakes win came in November, when she took the 6-furlong Bold World Handicap by a length.
Throughout her career, R Free Roll has been a very consistent horse, hitting the board 12 times out of 15 lifetime appearances. She has five wins, five second-place finishes, and two third-place results in her career, including when she broke her maiden at Calder in 2012 in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race and a 5 ½-furlong allowance one start later.
According to Ziadie, she is on track to do even better.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the owner,” said Ziadie. “He was very patient with this filly as a 2-year-old, and we knew that she would become a better older horse because she’s really small, she’s not much body, she’s lightly built so we knew she would probably grow up and be a better 4-year-old than 2 or 3-year-old and I think this is what’s happening now. She’s matured a lot so she’s definitely going to be a better 4 and 5-year-old.”
As for Mr. Baker, a former claiming horse, he has never appeared in a stakes race, but heads into the Ponche on a two-race winning streak that began at Calder in April. In the 5 ½-furlong allowance optional claiming race, Mr. Baker broke the track record for the distance with a final time of 1:04.3 as he conquered the other horses in the race by 11 ¼ lengths.
“I claimed him for Frank Calabrese and I really liked him a lot,” said Ziadie. “He’s a big good-looking white, grey horse, and he’s matured into a real nice horse. He’s starting to bloom right now.”
Mr. Baker has two other wins at Calder in his career. He won broke his maiden first-time out in a 6-furlong maiden special weight race in 2012 and won a 6-furlong allowance optional claiming race last year.
R Free Roll will break from post position five in the U Can Do It, while Mr. Baker will break from the outside in post position seven in the Ponche. Jockey Edgard Zayas has the call aboard both R Free roll and Mr. Baker.