10/06/2005 11:00PM

Calder Derby a new option for B. B. Best


MIAMI - Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had been hoping to work B. B. Best over the turf with an eye toward a possible appearance in next week's $200,000 Calder Derby. Unfortunately for him, the grass course has been closed for training over the past couple of weeks because of rainy weather, preventing Plesa from testing his Grade 1-placed 3-year-old over the surface.

Plesa might still enter B. B. Best in the Calder Derby, but only on the chance the Grade 3 race is switched to the main track. Otherwise, B. B. Best will make his much-anticipated return on the same day against older horses in the $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap.

"I've really been pointing him all along for the Spend a Buck, but with all this rain I'll be looking at the Calder Derby as well - where he would just have to run against other 3-year-olds if it were to come off the turf," Plesa said. "If not, he'll go in the Spend a Buck as we've planned."

B. B. Best, who finished third in both the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby, continues to train extremely well for his first start since the Withers on April 30. He worked a mile in 1:43.20 here this week.

Plesa preparing trio for Festival

Plesa will be busy during next Saturday's Festival of the Sun program. In addition to B. B. Best, who won the In Reality Stakes during last year's Festival of the Sun, he also will start Stolen Prayer, in the $400,000 My Dear Girl, as well as Lucky Chief and perhaps D.J. Best in the In Reality.

Stolen Prayer, who has won 2 of her 3 career starts, worked a mile in 1:45.80 over a sloppy track here Friday.

Calder Derby draws 19 noms, Spend a Buck 12

The Calder Derby and Spend a Buck are two of six stakes that make up the undercard on the Festival of the Sun, and are the only two graded stakes on the program.

The 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby drew 19 nominations, including Grand Reserve and Silver Whistle from trainer Bill Mott's stable. Cosmic Kris, fourth in the Grade 2 American Derby earlier this summer, has also been nominated. The local contingent is topped by multiple turf stakes winners Dream On Dream On and Lord Robyn.

The local handicap division for older horses has been weak this year, and as a result the Grade 3 Spend a Buck drew only a dozen nominations, including the 3-year-olds B. B. Best, Dazzling Dr. Cevin, and Hal's Image.

Oaks shaping up as a dandy

The Calder Oaks, the filly counterpart to the Calder Derby, could turn out to be one of the best races on the card. Among the 19 3-year-old fillies made eligible to the race are the Mott-trained My Typhoon and Steel Buns, California invader Conveyor's Angel, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's Dynamite Lass, and local favorite Aclassysassylassy.

Castro adds to his record total

Jockey Eddie Castro Jr. won his 200th race of the meet on Thursday, guiding Harold's Halo to victory for Plesa. Each new winner sets a meet record for Castro, who last week broke Walter Guerra's old mark of 193.

Castro's milestone win aboard Harold's Halo did set off some grumbling among the horse's backers after the final payoffs were posted for the race. Harold's Halo was 8-5 on the tote board when the field left the starting gate for the $16,000 claiming dash but was 4-5 by the time he crossed the wire resulting in a win payoff of just $3.80.