09/24/2003 11:00PM

Caesar Rodney reloads

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Delaware Park is hopeful Mother Nature will be more cooperative this weekend than she was a week ago when heavy rain forced the track to postpone the $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap.

The 1 1/8-mile turf race was rescheduled for Saturday because the grass course was too soggy and management feared there would be numerous scratches if the Rodney was run either on soft turf or moved to the main track. The track clearly prefers to have the strongest field possible because it is pushing to get graded status for the Rodney.

The original 11-horse field remains intact, with the notable exception of Rochester, who won last Saturday's Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs, and will undoubtedly be scratched.

The prime contenders on turf are Bowman's Band, third to Perfect Drift in his only previous try on grass last April; Tam's Terms, whose six-race winning streak was broken when he endured a troubled trip in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga; and Sir Brian's Sword, a Christophe Clement-trained 5-year-old gelding who won the Elkwood at Monmouth this summer and led wire to wire in a minor stakes last year in his only previous race over Delaware's turf course.

Fillies and mares on turf

Saturday's undercard includes the Beautiful Day, a $55,000 overnight turf stakes for fillies and mares at nine furlongs.

The 12-horse field is headed by Love N' Kiss S. and Lady of the Future, both of whom face easier competition after picking up small pieces of the purse in a series of Grade 2 and Grade 3 stakes.

Katzen, who has won 4 of 6 lifetime starts over Delaware's turf, and Cruise Along, winner of the nine-furlong All Brandy Stakes at Pimlico in her last start, are also prime contenders.

Alvarado quietly having solid meet

Roberto Alvarado Jr. is 50 winners ahead of the closest competitor behind him in the Delaware jockey standings. There's just one problem. Alvarado is nearly 70 wins behind runaway leader Ramon Dominguez.

Alvarado, 29, is enjoying what would ordinarily be considered a super season. Coming into Saturday's program, he has ridden 128 winners, well ahead of third-place Tony Black with 78.

But with Dominguez leading the nation in victories and closing in on Mike McCarthy's track single-season record of 218 wins with 196 through Wednesday, Alvardo's achievements have mostly gone unnoticed.

"Ramon is having a great meet," Alvarado said. "To be second behind him is nothing to be ashamed of."

Alvarado finished seventh in the standings in his first full season riding at Delaware in 1999, when he was primarily getting mounts in allowance and stakes races for Bob Camac. This season, Alvarado has been riding many live mounts for leading trainer Scott Lake.

"The key to this meet has been riding for successful outfits," Alvarado said. "That gives you confidence, and when you have confidence in yourself good things usually happen."