07/01/2006 12:00AM

Calder: Big Lover enjoys return to dirt


Big Lover found a return to the main track just what the doctor ordered as he rebounded from a terrible performance in the Lord Juban Stakes to register a 1 1/2-length decision over El Lobo in the $45,000 Ride the Rails Stakes at Calder.

Big Lover ($6.80) had registered a pair of wins on the dirt over a 12-day period earlier in the meet before finishing sixth, beaten more than

20 lengths, making his grass debut in the Lord Juban. He rated just off the pace under jockey Abel Castellano Jr. in the 1 1/16-mile Ride the Rails, came through a narrow opening between the leaders in early stretch, and outfinished El Lobo while not pressured near the end.

El Lobo, making his first start since finishing seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 18 and only the fourth start of his career, was forwardly placed throughout while holding on gamely to be second. Rehobooth finished third, followed by Thanks Dubya and Spikeavellian. Ready More was scratched.

Big Lover is a homebred son of Ecton Park owned by Michael Sherman and trained by Angel Salinas. He covered the distance in 1:46.53 over a fast track.

* India Halo ($13) and jockey Eduardo Nunez made a quick and decisive move to the lead just before the halfway point of the 1 1/2-mile $45,000 Arthur L. Stakes, then withstood several bids to beat males in the overnight stakes, which serves as a prep for the $250,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Handicap on July 22.

India Halo, one of two mares in the field along with stablemate Moon Dolly, broke last and trailed in the run to the opening turn before accelerating suddenly to take control as the field passed the wire the first time. India Halo then turned back a run from Wolf Howl leaving the backstretch the second time as well as challenges from Supervisor, A. J. Melini and even-money favorite Tacit Agreement through the stretch.

India Halo, who finished second in the 13-furlong Gallant Fox Handicap last Dec. 31, covered the distance in 2:07.06 over a good turf course. The 6-year-old India Halo is trained by Tim Ritvo for owner Howard C. Nolan Jr.