11/11/2004 12:00AM

All signs point to Right Hand Man


NEW YORK - The big stakes money Saturday can be found at Calder Race Course, where it is Florida Million Day. There are eight stakes for Florida-breds worth a total of $1.2 million, headed by the Carl G. Rose Classic and the Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap, which have purses of $200,000 each.

In a similar vein, Saturday is Illinois Festival of Racing Day at Hawthorne Park, with six $100,000 stakes for statebreds.

There is also a lot of stakes money offered at Woodbine, where the main events are the $250,000 Coronation Futurity for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds, and the $175,000 Maple Leaf.

Here are three stakes that caught my eye, in the order I like them:

Arthur I. Appleton Juvenile Turf

This is one of the other Florida Million Day races, and a very playable one at that. That is because the winner of the prep for this race and the owner of the highest Beyer Speed Figure in the field, Eastern Sand, can be bet against. Eastern Sand enjoyed a perfect inside-out, off-the-pace trip in his recent win, due in no small part to his inside post. This time, he has the less-favorable 9-hole.

Right Hand Man and Raleigh Express both ran well finishing behind Eastern Sand recently. Both are capable of turning the tables, but I prefer Right Hand Man. Right Hand Man was used out of the gate to get over toward the inside from the 10 post, and then was taken under a sharp hold, but was still close to a fast opening quarter-mile in 23 seconds. He was still battling for the lead in midstretch, and when he ran out of gas, he was not abused late.

Not only was that Right Hand Man's first start on turf, it was his first attempt beyond five furlongs and first start in nearly two months. He has a license to improve for those reasons alone, but should also be tougher this time because he has a better post toward the inside; adds blinkers, which is a profitable move for the trainer; and gets a big jockey switch to Javier Castellano.

As for Raleigh Express, he was beaten only a length by Eastern Sand despite being marooned in the 12-hole and racing three wide around both turns. He won't be the 73-1 he was that day, but he clearly improved with the switch to turf, and he also drew a better post this time.

Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap

Built Up looks like a solid play here.

Third or better in 20 of 27 career starts at Calder, Built Up comes into this off a close win in the Spend a Buck Handicap going two turns. He has always been most effective sprinting, however, and shows two races at this distance over the track earlier in the year that would crush this field. In the Ponche Handicap last May, he walloped Weigelia, an opponent Saturday who came back to win the Carry Back and finish a good second in the Grade 1 King's Bishop. Built Up followed that with a strong third in a blanket finish in the Smile Sprint Handicap behind Champali and Clock Stopper, who were both respected enough to be bet down to 7-1 in the recent Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Stuyvesant Handicap

Classic Endeavor has managed of late to recapture some of his past sharp form, and is the selection to continue that trend with a wire-to-wire score in this event.

Classic Endeavor ran his best and fastest race in a long time most recently in his first start off the Rick Dutrow claim, winning an optional claimer at Belmont. Dutrow is having a ridiculously good Aqueduct meet, winning 10 races and finishing second or third in nine others from his first 24 starters. Moreover, Classic Endeavor has always been most effective at Aqueduct, and would only enjoy moisture in the track, which he may get with rain predicted Friday into Saturday morning.