07/07/2004 11:00PM

Abbondanza takes on Bwana Charlie again


MIAMI - The last time Abbondanza and Bwana Charlie met they finished heads apart in the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes at Pimlico on the undercard for the Preakness Stakes. On Saturday, the two evenly matched 3-year-olds will square off again for a much richer payday in the $300,000 Carry Back Stakes, the best of four races on the undercard for Calder's Summit of Speed program.

The Grade 3 Carry Back will be preceded on Saturday's 13-race card by its filly counterpart, the Grade 3, $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes, as well as the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint and the $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes.

The six-furlong Carry Back has become an important stop on the summer calendar for 3-year-old sprinters since becoming part of the Summit of Speed in 2000. Caller One, who launches his comeback in the Rocket Man Stakes, won the 2000 renewal, while Cajun Beat went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Sprint several months after finishing second behind Valid Video in the 2003 Carry Back.

This year's edition of the Carry Back lost its main attraction when trainer Todd Pletcher decided not to ship Forest Danger after entering that Grade 3 winner on Monday. His defection turns what might have been a battle for second money into one of the most wide open of the six stakes on Saturday's program.

Abbondanza was no match for Forest Danger when second in the Bay Shore Stakes, but rebounded in the Hirsch Jacobs, rallying over what appeared to be the deeper going along the rail to outgame both Bwana Charlie and the pacesetting Penn Pacific. Abbondanza's time of 1:10.72 seconds for six furlongs was .12 seconds faster than the multiple graded stakes winning older horse Gators N Bears's time over the same distance in winning the Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap later that day.

Abbondanza earned a career best 102 Beyer Speed Figure in the Hirsch Jacobs, a figure he matched when finishing third while stretching to seven furlongs in the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Handicap three weeks later.

Bwana Charlie, a stretch-running son of Indian Charlie, finished best of all despite coming five wide in the Hirsch Jacobs. He was an easy winner of Keeneland's Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes this spring, has continued to train extremely well at Churchill Downs, and will get a seven-pound weight shift advantage from Abbondanza off their previous meeting.

"This is a horse with a lot of talent," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "Unfortunately, we wasted time trying to make him into a Kentucky Derby horse earlier this spring."

Two former Calder-based 3-year-olds, Ice Wynnd Fire and Twice as Bad, are among the many possible contenders when they return to their roots for the Carry Back.

Ice Wynnd Fire was purchased privately and sent to trainer Bobby Frankel after launching his career here with two big efforts last fall. Ice Wynnd Fire was narrowly beaten in his first two starts after changing barns, but bounced back with an impressive five-length entry-level allowance victory over older horses last month at Belmont Park.

Twice as Bad was stakes placed on two occasions as a 2-year-old before being purchased and sent to trainer Vladimir Cerin earlier this year. A grey son of Stormy Atlantic, he returned quick dividends for his new connections by winning the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Stakes at Hollywood before finishing second there going two turns in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes on June 19.

The locals are led by Weigelia, Classy Migration, Sir Oscar, and Caballero Negro. Sir Oscar, who swept the Florida Stallion Stakes while going undefeated in six starts at 2, will be making his first start since finishing eighth in the Florida Derby. He is trained by Richard Sacco, his third trainer in as many starts this season.

Azalea BC: Frenchglen faces pace pressure

Frenchglen, winner of the restricted Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont Park on May 26, might be a tepid favorite over the Frankel-trained Reforest in the Azalea. Frenchglen has posted triple-digit Beyers in each of her last two starts, but is at her best when on or with the lead, and she figures to receive a good deal of pace pressure in the six-furlong Azalea.

Reforest, another private purchase sent to Frankel this year, has two straight one-sided victories, including one against older horses at Belmont.

The speed of the speed in the Azalea appears to be Anna Em, who has won three of her last four starts. Her lone setback during that period was a second-place finish behind Put Me In, a talented older filly who came into that race off a second-place finish behind Lady Tak in the Winning Colors Handicap.

French Village and Chatter Chatter, who dominated the local 2-year-old filly division last year, may also figure prominently in the Azalea. French Village launched her 3-year-old campaign with an easy allowance victory over older horses, while Chatter Chatter will be making her 3-year-old campaign on Saturday.

* Callthesheriff and Abderian, second and third in the 2003 Calder Turf Sprint, are back to compete in this year's five-furlong turf dash. They are among the top contenders in an 11-horse field that also includes likely favorite Mighty Beau and course record holder Whenthedoveflies, the lone filly in the field. She is undefeated in four starts at the distance.

* Caller One, one of the premier sprinters in the world, who was sidelined by a fractured sesamoid in 2002, returns in the two-furlong Rocket Man. He will face a fleet group that includes the speedy filly Beautiful Honor and Canadian invader Pembroke Hall, a winner of his last nine starts, all in quarter-mile races at Fort Erie.