06/11/2002 11:00PM

Cabassa buoyed by stakes double


MIAMI - As a young rider, Abad Cabassa Jr. tasted success quickly, winning numerous riding titles on the New England circuit in the late 1970's and early 1980's. But it has been quite some time since Cabassa has had the kind of success he had here last weekend, when he won the Kissin Kris and Naked Greed stakes aboard Marquette and Tour of the Cat.

Cabassa bounced around as a journeyman during the early 1990's before finally settling down at Calder four years ago. And while establishing himself on the local circuit has proven to be a grind, he has made slow but steady progress, especially since hooking up with trainer Myra Mora, for whom he rode both Marquette and Tour of the Cat.

"I got a break catching on with Myra's stable, and I'm hoping winning those two stakes will open some other trainer's eyes as well," the 43-year-old Cabassa said.

Marquette benefited from a perfectly judged ride to win the Kissin Kris easily, rallying from off a contested pace before drawing away convincingly to record his first victory since capturing Saratoga's Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Handicap in August 1999.

"Myra got the horse only a week before the race," Cabassa said. "I liked the way he trained into the race, and I was glad the owners gave me the opportunity to ride him. You don't see too many horses come off a two-year layoff to win a stakes, and while he's not yet at the level he was before the injury, this was a good steppingstone for him."

Cabassa said Marquette is expected to run next in the $100,000 Americana Handicap on July 4.

Cabassa has won numerous stakes on the versatile 4-year-old Tour of the Cat and was glad to see him bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Carterista Handicap with his half-length victory in the seven-furlong Naked Greed.

"I thought at this particular time cutting back to one turn would be best for him," Cabassa said. "I'd really like to see him stay sprinting for a while and perhaps aim for the $400,000 Smile Sprint here next month."

The Smile Sprint and the $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap will highlight the $1.4 million Summit of Speed program on July 13, and both races figure to attract some of the nation's premier sprinters. Trainer John Salzman has already indicated that he is pointing to the Grade 2 Princess Rooney, while Mark Hennig said the seven-furlong Smile Sprint could be next for Gygistar following his impressive victory in Saturday's Riva Ridge Stakes.

Odds-dropping persists

When Vidlocity won Monday's fifth race, she became the second horse in nine days to win here after having their odds drop precipitously well after the field had left the starting gate.

Vidlocity was 16-1 when she was out in front entering the first turn on Monday and 10-1 by the time she turned for home with an even longer lead. She eventually drew off to a 7 1/2 length victory and paid $23.40. Nine days earlier, Ask Me Again was 22-1 taking the lead into the first turn but only 12-1 entering the stretch two lengths in front en route to a one-length victory. She paid $27.40.

There were several similarities in both cases, including the fact both horses were on the lead right out of the gate, and the largest late wager on each, a sum of more than $1,000, according to Pat Mahoney, the track's vice president of mutuels, came from the simulcast hub in Lewiston, Me.

"After discussing the situation with Pat and looking at printouts for those races, we don't believe anybody actually wagered after the closing bell, but we recognize there is a perception of that problem among customers both here and at other tracks where similar situations have occurred recently," said Ken Dunn, president of Calder.

In response to the two recent incidents at Calder, Dunn has sent a letter to Tim Smith of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association asking his organization to look into the situation in conjunction with the Thoroughbred Racing Associations.

"I have offered two practical suggestions to help alleviate the problem that includes getting the tote companies to change the one-minute odds cycles to 30 seconds and to have all tracks universally lock their machines once the first horse is loaded into the gate," Dunn said. "I don't foresee locking the machines as causing tracks anything more than a very short-term revenue loss if any at all."

Castlebrook a winner

Castlebrook, the leader of the filly and mare handicap division here a year ago, scored her first victory since capturing the Noble Royalty Handicap in September when she upset 2-5 favorite Bay Street Gal in Tuesday's opening race decided under allowance conditions.

Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., who won three stakes on Castlebrook while she was her regular rider for most of the 2001 campaign, was back aboard for the first time since being sidelined with a broken arm suffered in a gate mishap at Gulfstream in late February.