MIAMI -- The nomination lists for the eight stakes that make up the $2 million Summit of Speed card on July 7 had Calder's second-year racing secretary Mike Anifantis smiling from ear to ear earlier this week.
"If everyone shows up who told us they were coming, this will be one of the best renewals of the Summit of Speed ever," Anifantis said. "Maybe the best."
And that's saying something, because in its short history Calder's innovative Summit of Speed has become one of the most popular and classiest events of the summer on the national stakes calendar.
"The Smile and Princess Rooney could wind up battles between East and West," said Anifantis, referring to the Grade 2, $500,000 Smile and Grade 1, $500,000 Princess Rooney handicaps.
The Smile is led by the Northern California-based Smokey Stover and the Penn National-based Fabulous Strike, who both will bring four-race winning streaks into the six-furlong sprint. The locals are also well represented among the 14 colts and geldings nominated to the Smile, topped by Mach Ride, who comes off a career-best performance in the Champali here earlier this month.
Other notable names among the Smile nominations are Midwest win machine Coach Jimi Lee, the multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed Diabolical, and horse for the course Weigelia.
Among the nominees to the Princess Rooney are Indian Flare, Maryfield, Nossa Cancao, Pussycat Doll, River's Prayer, Shaggy Mane, and Selvatica, all of whom have done the majority of their racing on the West Coast. The best of that group are the three-time Grade 1 winner Pussycat Doll, one of four horses trainer Bob Baffert nominated to the Summit of Speed, and the speedball Shaggy Mane, whose last trip to south Florida produced a sensational 7 3/4-length triumph in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint earlier this year.
The Todd Pletcher-trained G City Gal, Miraculous Miss, Miss Macy Sue, and Wildcat Bettie B top the list of East Coast-based fillies and mares among the 17 nominees to the Princess Rooney, the first race to be accorded Grade 1 status at Calder.
"Aside from the real quality of the fields in our two main events, there's also a good chance we could have full fields in both the Azalea and Carry Back stakes," said Anifantis.
The Grade 3 Azalea for 3-year-old fillies lured 23 nominations, while the Grade 2 Carry Back for 3-year-olds drew 20 nominees. Both races are run under allowance conditions, which would determine eligibility if either should oversubscribe. The fields for the four graded stakes on the card are limited to a maximum of 14 starters each.
Jockey Cornelio Velasquez, a former local favorite, will return for the Summit of Speed. Among the mounts he already has lined up are Shaggy Mane in the Princess Rooney and Time's Mistress for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the Azalea.
Another former local riding champion, Eibar Coa, had originally been scheduled to return for the big day but instead will remain at Belmont on July 7 to ride Dream Rush for trainer Rick Violette in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes, which like the Azalea is for 3-year-old fillies.