06/26/2001 11:00PM

B L's Appeal's still got it


MIAMI - After finishing off the board for the eighth consecutive time when beaten 17 lengths by Callie and Jake in the Ponche Handicap, it appeared B L's Appeal would be destined for the claiming ranks, a van ride to Rockingham Park to find softer allowance competition, or perhaps even the breeding shed.

But B L's Appeal, winner of the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park two winters ago, has suddenly found new life. He regained his confidence by winning an optional claiming allowance dash on June 12, then easily avenged his setback at the hands of Callie and Jake with a victory in Tuesday's opener, a money allowance race.

"He just needed the time off we gave him after the end of his 3-year-old season," said trainer Larry Pilotti, who trained B L's Appeal earlier in his career and now has him again. "He needed his first race [the Ponche] but he still ran the same way he'd been running before the layoff. So, I decided to make a few subtle changes before his next start. I took off the figure eight [bridle], had him warm up without the pony, and told the rider to send him and put him right into the race. He went wire to wire and today [Tuesday] he broke well, sat off Kipperscope, who set some crazy fractions, then went on and ran him down at the end."

Pilotti said he is unsure where he'll run the rejuvenated B L's Appeal next.

"I'll open the condition book and see what I can find," said Pilotti. "I'm not sure what will be next but I am sure we're going to try him on the turf again somewhere down the road."

Kaplan on a roll

Trainer Bill Kaplan prayed for rain and got it Saturday, enabling his wet track specialist Multiplicity to win the off-the-turf Office Queen Stakes. Two days later Kaplan hoped for rain again, figuring a wet track might enhance the chances of Castlebrook, the other top filly in his barn, in Monday's Miss Jealski Stakes.

The rain came too late to change the track condition for the Miss Jealski, but Castlebrook didn't need the help. Castlebrook, a 4-year-old, showed a new dimension by rallying from off the pace to impressively win the overnight stakes.

"Wonderful," is how Kaplan described the feeling of winning two stakes during a 48-hour period. "I guess we're on a roll now."

Kaplan was referring to himself and owners Herb and Ione Elkins, his principal clients, with whom he also teamed up to sweep the open division of the Florida Stallion Series with Seacliff in 1995.

"Castlebrook is a big mare with a long stride and actually we were hoping she would make the lead," Kaplan explained. "But I guess everything worked out well anyway. Rosemary [Homeister Jr.] said she had a ton of horse of horse all the way. The filly also didn't change leads through the stretch or she would have really drawn off."

Kaplan, who saddled his fifth winner of the meet from just 12 starters when sending out the Elkinses' first-time starter Maitake Gem to victory in Tuesday's third race, will not have to wait long for his next stakes opportunity. On July 4 he will send out Mr. Livingston in the $50,000 Americana Handicap.

Mr. Livingston, a stakes winner at 3, was laid up a year because of foot problems before returning to action earlier in the meet.

"He lost all chance when he broke in the air the first time back," Kaplan said of Mr. Livingston. "But he's doing very well right now and should run much better in the Americana."

More surface switching

Tuesday's fourth race, the $30,000 Racing Star Stakes, was supposed to have served as a prep for the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint Handicap on the July 14 Summit of Speed program. Unfortunately for top contenders like Honorable Pic and Sejm's Madness, several days of heavy rain forced management to move the overnight race off the grass and onto the main track. The switch of surface played right into the hands of trainer Joe Calascibetta, who wound up finishing one-two with Silver Jet and Uncle Rocco.

Calascibetta entered three in the five-furlong Racing Star including turf specialist Wertz, who was scratched when the race came off the grass. Silver Jet, who had not hit the board in two previous inner track appearances, was obviously in for dirt only and made the most of the opportunity, splitting horses at midstretch to run down his uncoupled mate in the closing strides. Honorable Pic bore out a bit leaving the turn then rallied mildly to be third.

Trainer Jerry Paradise opted to leave his turf specialist Honorable Pic in the race despite the surface change "just to find out" whether he could handle the main track as well as has handled grass over the past nine months. He will still remain among the favorites for the Calder Turf Sprint despite having his local win streak snapped at four in the Racing Star. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. opted to scratch Sejm's Madness who will also be among the main contenders in the Calder Turf Sprint.