09/09/2009 11:00PM

Feature at the mercy of the weather


MIAMI - With entries taken from three to five days in advance throughout the Calder racing season, and the weather in the south Florida area being so volatile at this time of year, horsemen usually have little clue whether the turf course will be open for business when entering their horses during the summer meet.

That explains why Saturday's $34,000 allowance feature, scheduled to be run at a 1 1/16 miles on the grass, drew a 10-horse field split evenly between turf specialists and horses who are at their best on the main track.

The sun was shining when entries for Saturday's card were taken on Monday, but heavy rain early Thursday afternoon did not bode well that proven grass horses such as Baron Von Tap, Pickapocket, Cenzontle, and Cristobal will have an opportunity to compete over the turf this weekend. That would be just fine with the connections of Holiday Blake, Imawildandcrazyguy, Colonial Causeway, Pechito, and Hal's My Hope, none of whom would have much of a chance if Saturday's main event does not come off the grass.

Baron Von Tap was recently transferred from trainer Kirk Ziadie, who has been barred from the grounds by track management, to David Braddy. The 8-year-old Baron Von Tap has posted all seven career wins on turf, including an impressive allowance victory at Tampa earlier in the year. Baron Von Tap has been winless in three subsequent starts over the local course, although he did finish second in the Blazing Sword overnight stakes and fourth in the Grade 3 Miami Mile.

Pickapocket has not started since finishing fifth in the Tampa Turf Classic on April 4 and like Baron Von Tap has registered all his victories on grass. He returns locally for the first time since finishing off the board in the Lord Juban and Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby when he was with trainer Bill Mott during his 3-year-old campaign. Pickapocket has proven to well run when fresh and has been training well for trainer Marty Wolfson.

Cenzontle is another former Ziadie pupil who now is under the tutelage of Eddie Plesa Jr. Like Pickapocket, he has not started since the Tampa meet or won a race over any surface other than grass.

Holiday Blake has posted three straight allowance victories, all on dirt, with two of those races originally scheduled for the turf. He figures to be the heavy favorite in what would be a scratch-reduced field of no more than five or six if the grass course is not available on Saturday.