08/10/2002 12:00AM

Deputy fits on either surface


MIAMI - On paper it appears Junior Deputy has a better chance to win Monday's $40,000 Elite Jeblar Handicap if the race, scheduled for a mile on the turf, was transferred to the main track, as is always a possibility at Calder this time of year. But it might be a mistake to count out Junior Deputy entirely if the overnight handicap remains on turf.

Junior Deputy has won all five of his career victories on dirt and is winless in two tries over the grass. Yet he showed promise on the turf in both those appearances, finishing fourth, beaten two lengths after bobbling at the break of the 2001 Pete Axthelm Stakes, and third despite early trouble behind the stakes-caliber Boastful in his 2002 debut. In fact, he showed enough promise to be capable of scoring what might be considered an upset in the Elite Jeblar.

"His two races on grass were a lot better than they might appear," said his trainer, David Fawkes. "And I think he's got the ability to rate off what figures to be a very fast pace. I expect him to run big whether the race goes on the turf or dirt."

On turf, the likely favorite will be the versatile Wertz, who won three straight grass starts earlier this year but then scored his last two wins on the main track, including the Carterista Handicap here May 18. He figures to be part of an early pace that might also include the red-hot Pay the Preacher and Sunny Approval, who stretches out off a pair of solid sprint tries.

The mystery horse in the race is Doowaley, a son of Sadler's Wells who was a listed stakes winner in Italy last year, but a badly beaten ninth after dwelling at the break against allowance company at Delaware Park in his U.S. debut.

If the race comes off the grass, Dancing Guy will draw in off the also-eligible list and likely be favored to repeat his come-from-behind 3 1/4-length victory over Sir Bear in the Americana Handicap on July 4. Dirt only runners Highway Prospector and Strike Three would also be formidable should there be a surface switch.

* Calder has increased its purses again, adding approximately $10,000 or 5 percent to overnight purses, bringing the daily purse average to $192,000. An earlier 10 percent increase went into effect on June 14.

The strong response to Calder's simulcast product - including a record handle on last month's Summit of Speed program - and last week's five-day break in the schedule contributed to the latest increase.