MIAMI -- The 2011 Calder racing season ends one month earlier than usual but will go out with a bang as Friday's 10-race closing-day program features a pair of Grade 3 stakes on the grass, the $150,000 La Prevoyante and $100,000 Tropical Turf handicaps.
Racing on the south Florida circuit moves across town to Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
The shortened Tropical at Calder meeting gives the 1 1/2-mile La Prevoyante the unique distinction of being run twice in the same year. The longstanding fixture for fillies and mares was decided for the first time in 2011 on Jan. 2 with Changing Skies registering an easy 3 3/4-length victory over Casablanca Smile. Changing Skies will not return to defend her title but Casablanca Smile is back again, making her first start since La Prevoyante, Part I, 11 months earlier.
Casablanca Smile was a multiple Group 1 winner in her native Chile prior to shipping to the U.S. and joining trainer Shug McGaughey's barn during the spring of 2010. She won Keeneland's Dowager Stakes later that season and has also been graded-stakes-placed three times in five North American starts.
"We planned on giving her a while off after the La Prevoyante earlier this year," explained McGaughey. "But then she had some cannon bone bruising this spring and came down with a foot abscess when turned out after that. We had her in last month at Belmont in a mile race as a prep for this one but she wasn't quite right the morning of the race so we had to scratch her."
Casablanca Smile had her final tune-up for the La Prevoyante on Tuesday at Payson Park, where she went a half mile in 48 seconds.
"I thought she breezed really well but it's a big cup of tea asking her to run in this type of race off a one-year layoff," said McGaughey. "But she's a mile-and-one-half filly and we need to get her started somewhere. I think she's very talented and I'm looking forward to having her back for next year."
Despite her absence, Casablanca Smile will carry high weight of 120 pounds in the wide-open La Prevoyante, conceding a pound to Emerald Beech and two each to Senada and Cheetah. The remainder of the field consists of Holidaysatthefarm (115), Millennia (114), Tesoro de Amor (114), Ventania (113), Petite Riviere (113), Thislilsoulofmine (112), and Coffee Run (111).
Emerald Beech is coming off a fifth-place finish as the 9-5 favorite in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Long Island Handicap on Nov. 12. She is trained by Jonathan Sheppard for the Augustin Stable. Emerald Beech ran off four straight victories from May 19 through Sept. 5, culminating with a 1 1/2-length triumph in Saratoga's Grade 3 Glens Falls.
Senada was a distant third in the Glens Falls but rebounded to turn in the best performance of her career when upsetting this year's edition of the 12-furlong Dowager, rallying from far back to a three-quarter-length decision over Upperline.
Cheetah finished third as the 6-5 favorite in the Dowager, her first start since the Grade 1 Beverly D. 10 weeks earlier. She was a Grade 3 winner this past summer at Delaware Park for trainer Christophe Clement, who has already won the La Prevoyante on four previous occasions.
Thislilsoulofmine will be among the longshots in the La Prevoyante but should not be overlooked considering she hails from the barn of the red-hot Roger Attfield, who captured a pair of Grade 3 races over the turf, the My Charmer and W.L. McKnight, here last weekend.