10/12/2005 11:00PM

B. B. Best will need top effort in return


MIAMI - B. B. Best, one of the heroes of the 2004 Festival of the Sun, returns to the scene of his most important victory to take on older horses for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Spend a Buck Handicap. The Grade 3, $100,000 Spend a Buck is one of eight stakes on Saturday's Festival of the Sun card at Calder, which is topped by the final races of the Florida Stallion series, the In Reality and My Dear Girl.

B. B. Best led throughout to post a 1 3/4-length victory in the 2004 In Reality Stakes. The win was the second in the three-race Stallion Stakes series for B. B. Best, along with the six-furlong Dr. Fager Stakes.

was regarded among the top 3-year-olds stabled in south Florida this winter following third-place finishes behind High Fly in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby. But after B. B. Best's sixth-place performance in the Grade 3 Withers on April 30, trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. decided to give him some time off to recuperate from his hard campaign and to have an undescended testicle removed. A scheduled return on Aug. 21 had to be scrapped after B. B. Best spiked a temperature 72 hours before the race.

B. B. Best will have to be at the top of his game to overcome this long layoff and the projected pace scenario of the Spend a Buck. At his best when on or forcing the pace, B. B. Best is likely to get a severe challenge for the lead from both Apalachian Thunder and Hal's Image.

led at every call to post a 2 1/2-length victory in the six-furlong Whippleton Stakes, his local debut on Sept. 25. Trained by Bill White, Apalachian Thunder will try to stretch out around two turns for the first time since finishing second in the California Derby in April of 2003.

was a wire-to-wire winner of the American Dreamer overnight stakes here on Aug. 21 and is one of three 3-year-olds, along with B. B. Best and Dazzling Dr. Cevin, in the Spend a Buck.

Should the pace get too hot, the race figures to come back to either Whos Crying Now, Lawbook, or Supervisor. That trio finished first, second, and third over a sloppy track in the Ambehaving Stakes on Sept. 10.

Speed may set up Wolfson's two

The $100,000 Shocker T. Handicap for older fillies and mares also has a field loaded with speed. American Miss, the starting highweight under 120 pounds, Illinois invader Take D'Tour, and 3-year-old Snug Harbour figure to assure lively early fractions, which could set the event up for trainer Marty Wolfson's uncoupled pair of Prospective Saint and Mocita.

Two-year-olds sprint six furlongs

The $100,000 Criterium Stakes and its filly counterpart, the $100,000 J J'sdream, Stakes will both be decided at six furlongs for 2-year-olds.

In a wide-open Criterium, R Loyal Man will look to bounce back from a disappointing effort going two turns in the Foolish Pleasure Breeders' Cup Stakes. Tizzys No Saint, third in the Foolish Pleasure, is among a large group of contenders that also includes the undefeated Forest Danz, Prayersandasong, Gin Rummy King, and Lord of the Flame.

A Sea Trippi, who is also entered in the My Dear Girl, might be the one to beat if she goes in the J J'sdream. Second behind the red-hot Mia's Reflection going two turns in the Lindsay Frolic and Brave Raj Stakes, A Sea Trippi will try to run down a group of speedsters that includes Orchid Isle, Reason to Rejoice, Frolicing, and Lake Alice.