06/21/2007 12:00AM

Drums of Thunder tries again


MIAMI - Wet weather put a damper on Drums of Thunder's much-anticipated return to Calder last weekend, and the weather could have a major impact again when the graded-stakes-placed 3-year-old attempts to launch his comeback for a second time in Saturday's $50,000 Lord Juban Stakes.

Trainer Bill Kaplan scratched Drums of Thunder from last Sunday's six-furlong Valid Video Stakes after heavy showers turned the track into a sea of slop. On Saturday, Kaplan hopes to bring Drums of Thunder back from a 3 1/2-month vacation in the 1 1/16-mile Lord Juban, which is scheduled for a turf course that has been used very little because of rain over the last several weeks.

Drums of Thunder has done most of his running on dirt but did win his only start on grass, rallying to a neck victory at five furlongs under first-level allowance conditions here at age 2.

A son of Concerto, Drums of Thunder has gradually developed into one of the top 3-year-olds on the grounds following that victory, winning the What a Pleasure Stakes to close out his juvenile campaign before splitting Nobiz Like Shobiz and Scat Daddy when a game second in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Holy Bull in his first start at 3.

Kaplan had to stop on Drums of Thunder due to a hind leg infection after his sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on Marcho3, but he said that the colt is training as well as ever in preparation for his return.

Pickapocket, another 2-year-old stakes winner returning from a layoff, also figures to be a major player in the Lord Juban if the race goes on turf. Pickapocket won the World Appeal and Pilgrim stakes at 2 but has started just twice this year, finishing a tiring third in a strong field of 3-year-olds in the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby on New Year's Day and 10th in Gulfstream Park's Hallandale Beach Stakes on Feb. 24.

Owner-breeder Martin Cherry turned Pickapocket over to trainer trainer Marty Wolfson following the Hallandale, and the son of Mecke has also trained forwardly for his return.

Other key contenders if the Lord Juban goes on grass are Later Gater, second in Lone Star's USA Stakes on May 28, and recent allowance winners Voorhee's Ballad, Sparkling Notion, and Fair Weather Stan.

If the race is moved to the dirt, Hal's My Hope joins Drums of Thunder as the horse to beat, returning from New York off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes. A homebred son of Halo's Image, he captured the Unbridled Stakes by a dozen lengths in his last local appearance four weeks ago.