10/04/2006 11:00PM

Gin Rummy Champ will be coming late


The cream of the local turf sprint division will gather Saturday, weather permitting, to go five furlongs over the grass in the $45,000 Hooting Star Stakes at Calder.

The Hooting Star will feature stretch-runner Gin Rummy Champ against veteran speedsters Love My Mountain and Paradise Dancer. The field also includes top contenders Dirtymoposse, Nacascolo, and Hollywood Left. Lucky Frolic and Blue Pepsi Lodge would benefit if the race comes off the turf and switches over to the main track.

Gin Rummy Champ moved to the top of the division earlier in the meet after posting consecutive victories in the Heckofaralph Stakes and Calder Turf Sprint Handicap. His victory in the Heckofaralph snapped an 18-race losing streak that spanned nearly two years. He returned five weeks later with the most important victory of his career, a two-length decision in the Calder Turf Sprint, in which he defeated Midwest invaders Sgt. Bert and WhataSoldier. In his most recent start, Gin Rummy Champ raced evenly to finish fifth in the Turf Sprint Championship Handicap.

Gin Rummy Champ will be the co-highweight at 123 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Hooting Star, conceding three pounds to key contenders Paradise Dancer and Love My Mountain.

Paradise Dancer has never won in six starts on grass, but he did finish third behind Twilight Road in the Grade 3 Miami Mile and second in a five-furlong overnight stakes on the turf, both in 2004. Paradise Dancer was haltered for $40,000 by trainer Kirk Ziadie out of his previous start, a wire-to-wire win in a third-level allowance on the main track, for which he earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Love My Mountain is a five-furlong turf specialist, and as usual he is the one to catch from the rail. A 7-year-old, Love My Mountain was no match for Gin Rummy Champ in the Calder Turf Sprint, but he bounced back with a wire-to-wire victory over a strong field of second-level allowance rivals, including Lox and Kippers and Placido, who were next-out turf winners, and Mr. Maestre, who won an overnight stakes on the main track.

Nacascolo will share high weight with Gin Rummy Champ. A 1 1/2-length winner of The Vid Stakes on July 30, Nacascolo is 0 for 6 in five-furlong grass races.

Dirtymoposse outfinished Gin Rummy Champ by a neck to upset the Reappeal Stakes in mid-May, but was not a factor in the Calder Turf Sprint and Turf Sprint Champion handicaps in his last two outings.