12/15/2001 1:00AM

Give Calder shippers an edge


OLDSMAR, Fla. - When horseplayers start handicapping Tampa Bay Downs cards in these opening days of the race meeting, the difference between profit and loss could well boil down to how they treat horses who have been running at Calder Race Course.

History shows that in the first month or so of a meeting, horses coming up from Calder win more than horses who have been racing at any other track.

There are several reasons for this, the main one being that there are cheaper races for maidens here than at Calder. A horse who is worth $7,500 or $5,000 has to knock heads with maidens worth $12,500 or more at Calder, but here there are lower-level maiden races in which he can be competitive. The same holds true with winners, because there are more conditioned $5,000 and $10,000 races here than at Calder.

Another reason Calder-raced horses do well early in the Tampa meet is that they have been racing and are fit.

It also seems that horses who race over the Calder surface seem to adapt well to Tampa's deeper and more tiring strip.

With the Calder angle in mind, here are a few trainers and jockeys who could get off to quick starts.


Kathleen O'Connell - One of the hardest-working trainers in the business, O'Connell has a no-nonsense approach when placing her horses; she enters them where they can win. She's winning at a 16 percent clip at Calder and tied for fourth place in the standings at Tampa Bay last meet.

Myra Mora - She had a big meeting here last winter, tying for sixth place in the standings with 16 wins from 85 starts. She has one of the better turf runners in south Florida in Tale of the Cat.

Richard Ciardullo Jr. - His runners have been winning in increasing numbers recently. He has Miami connections, so he may get horses from other stables to run here.


Bill Henry - A former leading rider here, he has been riding at Calder and has some connections with Miami-based outfits, including O'Connell's. Since having corrective surgery on his shoulder over the summer, he has displayed a renewed enthusiasm and drive.

Pedro Rodriguez - Used Miami connections to get off to a quick start last meet, and that carried him to a fourth-place finish in the standings.

Pay attention to that south Florida angle, look for value, and maybe you can get the new meeting off to a profitable start.