Speak Logistics, a highly regarded colt making his Calder debut, and Verso a Verso, a filly racing for the first time since being claimed for $16,000, won Saturday’s final legs in the annual Florida Stallion Stakes series.
Angel Serpa, another Calder newcomer, rode both winners.
He came down from New Jersey to ride Speak Logistics in the $300,000 In Reality Stakes for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.
He also picked up the mount on Verso a Verso for trainer Luis Ramirez in the $300,000 My Dear Girl Stakes. Verso a Verso was racing for the first time for owner Frank Carl Calabrese, Calder’s most active owner in claiming horses.
Serpa rode Speak Logistics in his debut, a fourth-place finish on July 8, and then in an impressive one-mile win Aug. 12. Both races were at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
“I felt so good aboard them,” Serpa said of Saturday’s winners. “Everything just clicked.”
In the In Reality race, Serpa and Speak Logistics led almost the entire route and beat Two T’s At Two B by 2 3/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race. The winning time was 1:47.79 on a track listed as good following rain on Friday night.
Verso a Verso used a different tactic. She was in third place around the final turn and then burst ahead and beat Ashlee’s Princess by five lengths. She covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:49.95.
Both times were respectable, considering the conditions.
The Stallion Stakes, launched in 1982, is a three-race series for males and a three-race series for fillies.
With the victories by Speak Logistics and Verso a Verso, 2012 is the first year with six different winners in the series.
Verso a Verso’s win came in just her second career race.
She was owned by Juan Francisco Landeeta and trained by Daniel Pita when she made her debut in a $16,000 claiming race at Calder on Aug, 16.
Calabrese put in a claim before that race, which Verso a Verso won by 2 3/4 lengths on a sloppy track. He then placed her with Ramirez.
“We liked her breeding,” Ramirez said.
That includes multiple stakes winners Circular Quay and Bertrando, the sire and maternal grandfather respectively of Verso a Verso.
Calabrese leads owners in wins at the Tropical at Calder meet that began on Sept. 1.
Ramirez said he trains 26 horses for Calabrese and that 18 were acquired by claim.
Ramirez said he found Verso a Verso “was very green but had potential.” When she was ready to race, “we decided to take this shot.”
Bettors made Verso a Verso the 10-1 fifth choice in a nine-horse field.
Jewel in the Sky led Candy Coded Kisses by a half length after a half mile in 49.08 seconds.
Those horses were among a tightly bunched group in midstretch before Verso a Verso passed them on the outside. So Blessed finished third, six lengths behind runner-up Ashlee’s Princess.
“The trainer told me to just let her break and sit behind the pace,” Serpa said of his race strategy. “And if I did that, he said she would give me everything turning for home. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Speak Logistics was the 9-5 favorite in the 10-horse In Reality race.
Bettors noted his Monmouth win and Plesa’s success this year and historically with 2-year-olds at Calder and other tracks.
Speak Logistics took an early lead and, surprisingly, no horses tried to stay with him.
He led Two T’s At Two B by 1 1/2 lengths after a half mile in 50.82 and was not seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Uptown Anthem finished third and Joshua’s Comprise came in fourth.
Speak Logistics is a son of High Cotton. He is owned by Ralph Nabavi, who has homes in Davie and the New York area and owns a transportation logistics company.
Plesa also trains Brave Dave and Itsmyluckyday, a pair of 2-year-olds that won Calder stakes this year that are not part of the Stallion Stakes.