10/20/2004 11:00PM

Eddington shaky favorite on grass


MIAMI - Mention the name Eddington and one immediately thinks about his battles earlier this season against Smarty Jones, Birdstone, and Tapit in prestigious races such as the Wood Memorial, Preakness, Belmont, and Travers. And as a result of that reputation, Eddington is likely to go off the favorite when he drops in against Grade 3 competition in Saturday's $200,000 .

But the Wood, Preakness, Belmont, and Travers are all run on the dirt. The 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby is on the grass - and nobody associates Eddington's name with turf because he has never raced on the grass. That makes him both the horse to beat and biggest question mark in the race.

Eddington earned his reputation with third-place finishes in the Wood, Preakness, and Travers. He also was fourth in the Belmont, third in the Jim Dandy, and most recently second, beaten a neck by Pies Prospect, in the Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands.

Trainer Mark Hennig has always thought Eddington would handle the turf because he's a son of the stakes-placed grass mare Fashion Star. Eddington has recently worked twice on grass to the satisfaction of both Hennig and regular jockey Richard Migliore. Migliore will not accompany Eddington to Florida for the Calder Derby. Eibar Coa has picked up the mount.

Icy Atlantic, local favorite Wire Bound, and Cool Conductor are the logical alternatives for those who prefer to make Eddington prove he can handle the grass at a short price in the Calder Derby. Cool Conductor may not run, however, because of difficulty arranging travel from Kentucky.

Icy Atlantic has held his own against the best of the 3-year-old turf division on the East Coast this season. He won the Grade 3 Jersey Derby, lost an apparent victory by a nose over Mustanfar in the Grade 3 Lexington via disqualification, and was beaten a nose by Timo in the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup. In his last two starts Icy Atlantic had the misfortune to hook Artie Schiller in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and Grade 2 Jamaica handicaps.

Jerry Bailey has picked up the mount for trainer Todd Pletcher aboard Icy Atlantic in the Calder Derby.

Wire Bound has been nearly unbeatable over the Calder course with 3 victories in 4 starts here, including easy wins in the Simply Majestic and Sir Omni stakes. His only setback on Calder grass came against older horses, when he finished fourth over a yielding strip in the Grade 3 Miami Mile Breeders' Handicap.

Cool Conductor, who usually races near the front, showed a new dimension last weekend when he rallied to a neck victory in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby. The well-traveled colt would be making his third start in 13 days Derby and was poorly drawn in post 12.

The undercard on Saturday's 15-race Festival of the Sun program will also include the Grade 3, $100,000 Spend a Buck and Shocker T. handicaps for older horses as well as the $75,000 Birdonthewire and Cassidy stakes for 2-year-old sprinters.

Super Frolic and Twilight Road will share high weight of 117 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile Spend a Buck. Built Up, multiple graded stakes winner Dancing Guy, and Gold Dollar are among the contenders.

Pampered Princess will be the 119-pound highweight and likely favorite under Bailey in the Shocker T., with her chief competition likely to come from Redoubled Miss, Dakota Light, and Maria's Image.

Cut the Mustard, second behind Aclassysassylassy in the first two legs of the Stallion Stakes, will be favored in the six-furlong Cassidy, while Monti's Lad, Lucky Frolic, and Captain Lindsay head a wide-open field in the six-furlong Birdonthewire.