11/21/2008 12:00AM

Big horses in small stakes


MIAMI - What kind of field can you attract for a mere $55,000 purse? Well in the case of Saturday's Radar Love Stakes at Calder, three graded stakes winners - Golden Spikes, Hey Byrn, and Paradise Dancer - along with a supporting cast that includes Storm in May, who ran in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

The Radar Love also lured the speedy 4-year-old Machismo, fresh off a lifetime-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure earned for a third-level optional claiming victory three weeks ago. Machismo figured to be the horse to catch in the 6 1/2-furlong Radar Love Stakes, but racing secretary Mike Anifantis said he was informed Thursday morning by trainer Joe Calascibetta that he planned to scratch his speedster.

The absence of Machismo will also change trainer Marty Wolfson's strategy. Wolfson entered both Golden Spikes and Ikigai but originally considered scratching Ikigai to avoid a potential speed duel with Machismo. With that rival now out, Wolfson said he will likely start both his horses on Saturday.

Either way, the 3-year-old Golden Spikes is the one to beat. He posted back-to-back victories in the Unbridled and Grade 2 Carry Back stakes here earlier this year while earning triple-digit Beyers for both those wins. He disappointed in two subsequent starts out of town, finishing well back in both the Grade 1 King's Bishop and Philadelphia Park's Gallant Bob Handicap.

"Just toss those last two races right out," said Wolfson. "He wound up in a ridiculous speed duel in the King's Bishop and just didn't handle the muddy track in Philly. That's the second time he's run on a wet track and the second time he struggled. He was also fourth over a sloppy racetrack in the Hutcheson."

Golden Spikes, whose four victories have all come at Calder, has always done his best running when outside horses, so naturally Wolfson was pleased when he drew post 10 for the Radar Love.

"He's trained great since his last start, loves this track and couldn't have drawn a better post," said Wolfson. "With Machismo out, if I don't run Ikigai then Golden Spikes could probably be in front, but I'd rather see him coming from just off the pace."

Ikigai is perfect in three starts since arriving at Wolfson's barn early this past summer. But he was all out to win the five-furlong Kaiser Stakes in his last start and will be asked to go beyond six furlongs for the first time.

Hey Byrn won the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in April. He was also fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and seventh in the Preakness, but has not started since finishing fourth following an unlucky trip in Monmouth Park's Long Branch on July 12.

"He got sick less than a week before he was scheduled to run in the Haskell," said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. "So we gave him plenty of time to recover. He couldn't be training any better and this looked like a nice spot to bring him back in preparation for stretching him out around two turns next time, but the race sure came up tough for $55,000."

Paradise Dancer is winless in three outings since capturing the Grade 3 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap to close out his 7-year-old campaign last December. He did show some signs of improvement in his last start when finishing third behind Machismo following a wide trip.