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Bad Debt, above winning a stakes at Calder in 2012, is one of the top contenders for the Tropical Turf Handicap on Saturday. (Coady Photography)

By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase

The Grade 3, $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap brings together a field of 10, plus two entered for the main track only in case the race comes off the grass. With little chance of precipitation, the race probably will run as scheduled. If so, impressive Millions Turf Preview Stakes winner Bad Debt could be tough to beat coming off a 6 ½-length victory and with a perfect 2-for-2 record on the Calder turf course. Tetradrachm enters the race off a fourth-place effort in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes in October but two starts before that won impressively for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and could be up to the task. Both Grand Tito and Exothermic bring recent second-level allowance wins into the Tropical Turf Handicap and are not without chances to step their game up to this level. Philly Ace won this race last year but has not been seen since then so there is a question of fitness to consider. Heiko won The Vid Stakes in September leading from start to finish and could pose an elusive target in the race. Reflecting moves back to grass after a poor effort in a race moved off turf because of bad weather, and he ran well enough when second right before that in the PTHA President's Cup Stakes to have a chance at success. Speaking of Which, Live in Joy and Paris Vegas are three more entered for the turf, while Ducduc and Csaba are entered for the main track only so are hoping for rain that would necessitate moving the race to dirt.

Tetradrachm joined the barn of Bill Mott prior to his Aug. 3 effort at Saratoga, a strong three-length victory on the turf with a career-best 113 Equibase Speed Figure. Stepped up from allowance company into stakes ranks in the Grade 2 Barnard Baruch Handicap, Tetradrachm ran very well when third to multiple graded stakes winner Silver Max. In his next start, Tetradrachm finished fourth in the Knickerbocker Handicap to Za Approval, who subsequently finished second to Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Considering the class of the horses he has run against recently, Tetradrachm has every right to repeat his career-best effort from August and win this year's Tropical Turf Handicap.

Bad Debt is a veteran with a history of success, now with 14 victories in 46 starts. He also likes to finish second, with 12 runner-up efforts, many of those coming as part of an 11-race losing streak from December 2012 until his most recent race on Nov. 9,when victorious by 6 1/2 lengths in the Millions Turf Preview Stakes with a career-best 113 figure. In addition to entering the Tropical Turf Handicap off a strong win, Bad Debt has shown a decided liking for the Calder turf as he is a perfect 2-for-2 on it, both wins coming at the same 1 1/8-mile distance as this race. As such, Bad Debt has every right to win for the 15th time in his career.

Reflecting ran the best race of his career the last time he raced on turf when rallying for second in the PTHA President's Cup Stakes, earning a career-best 109 Equibase Speed Figure behind multiple stakes winner Swift Warrior. Considering that effort came at the same distance as the Tropical Turf Handicap and that probable pacesetter Heiko should give him a target to run at late, Reflecting figures to be a strong threat in the late stages and could pass them all to win.

Heiko looks to be a lone front-runner in the race, having used his early speed to his best advantage when taking The Vid Stakes in September with a 101 Equibase Speed Figure. Having been first or second in six of nine races this year, even though his best figure of 105 earned in July is a bit below the top two contenders, Heiko could hang on for a share here and must be considered when playing any exacta or other exotic wagers involving this race.

The rest of the field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Exothermic (100), Grand Tito (107), Live in Joy (106), Paris Vegas (113), Philly Ace (104) and Speaking of Which (104). Csaba and Ducduc are entered for the main track only and will only run if the race comes off the grass.

My Selections:


Bad Debt



$100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap

Calder Race Course, Saturday, Race 6, 3 p.m. EST)

3-year-olds and older, 1 1/8 miles (turf)







Tetradrachm (KY)

Junior Alvarado


Bill Mott


Speaking of Which (IRE)

Joe Bravo


Christophe Clement


Grand Tito (KY)

Jesus Rios


Antonio Sano


Bad Debt (FL)

Gabriel Saez


Michael Trombetta


Heiko (KY)

Jilver Chamafi


Marty Wolfson


Philly Ace (PA)

Brice Blanc


Christophe Clement


Exothermic (KY)

Manoel Cruz


Rusty Arnold


Live in Joy (KY)

Jesus Castanon


Mike Maker


Paris Vegas (KY)

Juan Leyva


Tom Voss


Reflecting (KY)

Alan Garcia


Shug McGaughey


Ducduc (KY)

Manuel Aguilar


Bisnath Parboo


Csaba (KY)

Luis Saez


Philip Gleaves

MTO – denotes entered for main track only in case the race is taken off the turf



Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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