The consistent sprint stakes veteran Close It Out and the speedy stakes newcomer Wickersheim head the field for Saturday’s $55,000 Champali Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course.
The Champali is six furlongs on dirt for 3-year-olds and up, with 10 entrants.
Close It Out, the 5-2 morning line favorite, is making his first start since this year’s Gulfstream Park meet in which he finished third in the Sunshine State Sprint Stakes and fourth in the Sunshine Millions Sprint and in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (Grade 3)
None of the horses that finished ahead of Close It Out in those races are in the Champali. They are Bahamian Squall, Off the Jak and Fort Loudon.
“He ran against some very good horses at Gulfstream,” said Steve Towne, the trainer of Close It Out “He always gives his best. I have never been disappointed with him.”
In his most recent Calder race on Nov. 10, Close It Out rallied from ninth after a half mile and won the six-furlong Jack Dudley Sprint by a neck over Bahamian Squall.
Close It Out has post seven and will be ridden by regular jockey Manoel Cruz.
Wickersheim, a lightly raced 4-year-old colt, will make his stakes debut. He is trained by Marty Wolfson, who also has entered long-shot Ooohs and Aaahs.
Wickersheim finished third or better, including one win, in his four starts at Gulfstream this year.
He has post 10, which could ensure a clean trip, with Edgard Zayas riding for the second race in a row.
Cajun Breeze, who probably will battle Wickersheim for the early lead, and Black Diamond Cat, who has a closer’s style, loom as top challengers.
• Calder will have 11 races Saturday with first post of 12:50 p.m. and also will have simulcast betting on the Preakness Stakes and all of the day’s other races at Pimlico in Baltimore.
The Preakness is Pimlico’s 12th race, with a scheduled post of 6:20 p.m..
Gulfstream, Magic City Casino, Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park and Palm Beach Kennel will simulcast all of the day’s Calder races and all Pimlico races.
Hialeah Park will simulcast all of the Pimlico races but none of Calder’s races.
Dania Jai Alai and Mardi Gras Racing & Gaming will simulcast the Preakness, but will not have any of the earlier Pimlico races or any Calder races.
• Calder-based Eddie Plesa Jr. trains Preakness entrant Itsmyluckyday and Brave Dave, a 3-year-old sprinter, who is in a stakes on the Preakness undercard.
Brave Dave and Calder-based rival City of Weston are part of a strong nine-horse field in the $100,000 Chick Lang at six furlongs on dirt. On April 27, City of Weston beat Brave Dave by three quarters of a length in the six-furlong Big Drama Stakes at Calder.
Javier Castellano will ride City of Weston for the first time. Antonio Sano trains City of Weston.
John Velazquez will ride Brave Dave and Itsmyluckyday — both for the first time.