While a potential sweep of both divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes Series is the feature on Saturday’s Festival of the Sun card at Calder Casino & Race Course, trainer Bill White can win the two turf stakes races on the card — the Tropical Park Derby and the Frances A. Genter Stakes.
White is sending maiden winner Colossians in the $70,000 Tropical Park Derby for 3-year-olds, which is scheduled for one mile on the turf course. He’s sending Nicki Starshine and Jade’s Rainbow in the $70,000 Frances A. Genter Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, which is scheduled for one mile on the turf.
Colossians, who is owned by Donald R. Dizney, was transferred to White midsummer after running his first career race with trainer Bob Baffert at Hollywood Park. He ran fifth in a six-furlong maiden claiming race on their all-weather track on May 10. In his first race for White on Aug. 2, Colossians chased the pace, took the lead in the stretch, and cleared away to win the seven-furlong maiden claiming race at Calder by four lengths.
The Tropical Park Derby will be Colossians’ stakes debut, as well as his first race on the turf.
“We feel that he is a grass horse,” White said. “I won the turf race with Dysprosium a few weeks ago, and we’ve shipped him up to New York, so I needed a horse for the next stake. I figured we would give Colossians a shot. I know it is a little bit of a reach, but you never know unless you try.”
Dysprosium won the 1 1/16-mile Needles Stakes on the turf at Calder on Sept. 14 during Festival Preview day by a clear six lengths. He is now with trainer Bill Mott to prepare for a run on Saturday in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park. Four runners that ran in the Needles with Dysprosium are entered in the Tropical Park Derby.
“I thought that Dysprosium won so impressively and the horses that finished behind him all seemed to be pretty bunched up. So I felt with Dysprosium removed, it was a wide open race, so I am just taking a shot,” White said.
Sunshine Thoroughbred Corp. owns Nicki Starshine and Jade’s Rainbow. The fillies both broke their maidens at Calder last year in maiden claiming races over seven furlongs on the main track. Nicki Starshine advanced ahead to win by eight lengths after chasing the pace heading into the stretch. Jade’s Rainbow broke her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths by setting the pace and clearing her lead down the stretch.
In eight lifetime starts, Nicki Starshine has never finished worse than third.
"What impresses me about Nicki Starshine is her consistency," White said. "She won a stake in her last start as a 2-year-old. Then after a layoff, she came right back and won another stake and then ran a good second as a highweight again in a stake. What I really admire about her, even though she is a young filly, is she is very consistent. What I really respect about her is how she shows up every time."
Nicki Starshine earned her first career stakes victory last November at Calder in the 1 1/16-mile John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes on the turf. She cleared away down the stretch to win by 31/4 lengths after racing toward the back of the pack for much of the race. She did not return to the races until Aug. 3 and made her first start off the layoff in the 7 ½-furlong Crystal Rail Stakes on the turf at Calder.