06/09/2005 12:00AM

Coming in off a doozy, Sir Ray bears watching


MIAMI - Saturday's $50,000 New York New York Stakes at Calder is carded at 1 1/2 miles. The big question is, how far will Sir Ray run?

The New York New York is the third and final leg of Calder's Senior Triple, a three race series that mirrors the Triple Crown. Saturday's race drew a field of seven and highlights a 12-race card that also includes the $40,000 Heckofaralph Stakes at five furlongs on the turf.

covered almost a mile and a half in his last start, the 1 3/16-mile Maryland My Maryland Stakes, by bolting on the clubhouse turn and racing along the outside rail in the run down the backstretch. Despite losing a lot of ground, Sir Ray was able to overtake archrival Perspicacious after angling back near the inside around the second turn, and then pulled away to an incredible 2 1/2-length victory. On the backstretch, jockey Manoel Cruz actually waved off the outrider's attempt to pull up Sir Ray.

"That last race should be on a sports highlight film," said Bill White, who trains the unpredictable Sir Ray. "I've altered his training since that race. I used to send him to the track in the dark because it seemed to calm him down, but now I'm sending him out to gallop very late in the morning to let him see what he needs to see out there. I haven't worked him since his last start but I have been giving him endurance gallops of up to two and a half miles.

"He's trained super several days in a row, and I'm confident that if he negotiates the turns he's the horse to beat. The problem is you just don't know."

Cruz has a return call on Sir Ray, who, like all seven starters in the New York New York, will carry 123 pounds.

Perspicacious upset Sir Ray in the pair's first meeting, wearing him down for a neck victory in the 1 1/4-mile My Old Kentucky Home Stakes on May 7. Sir Ray, the even-money favorite that day, also tried to drift on the backstretch in that race.

is owned and trained by Ralph Bisantz, who brought a small stable here from northern California earlier this spring. An Argentine-bred, Perspicacious will be reunited with jockey Eddie Castro for the New York New York.

The presence of adds another wrinkle to the race. The 6-year-old has been off his best form this season after winning seven races a year ago. But he has been facing stronger opposition and has enough speed to give Sir Ray a challenge for the early lead.

That doesn't mean White is going to change strategy with Sir Ray.

"With all we have to deal with Sir Ray, I can't ask him to do anything but what he's comfortable doing," White said. "I can't risk trying to change his running style now. We'll just let him run his race, hope he makes the turns, and whatever happens, happens."