07/22/2004 12:00AM

Gold Shield sharp for turf stakes


MIAMI - Wire Bound became the undisputed leader of Calder's 3-year-old turf division with his easy victory in the Simply Majestic Stakes on May 22. His absence for greener pastures up north, however, leaves a couple of his victims in the Simply Majestic to slug it out for the top prize in Saturday's $40,000 Jackie Wackie Stakes, an overnight race carded at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Gin Rummy Champ finished second and Gold Shield fifth behind Wire Bound in the Simply Majestic, although it is Gold Shield who may wind up favored on Saturday.

Gold Shield was forced to steady sharply to avoid running up on horses along the rail entering the far turn in the Simply Majestic. Trainer Joe Calascibetta equipped Gold Shield with blinkers for his next start, a second-level allowance race against older horses, and was rewarded with a neck victory. There were some anxious moments, however, after Gold Shield broke awkwardly and was forced to rally five wide from the back of the pack before getting his third win in 12 starts.

Gin Rummy Champ also came out of the Simply Majestic to win his next start, turning back to five furlongs in the Naked Greed Stakes. That victory halted a frustrating streak of four consecutive second-place finishes. He was a non-threatening fifth against older rivals in the Calder Turf Sprint Handicap in his last start.

Silversandsoftime and Southern Cal will be making their local stakes debuts in the Jackie Wackie.

Silversandsoftime has flourished since returning to Calder - his home course - this spring. He reeled off three straight allowance victories before the streak was stopped when he finished third in a strong field of older third-level allowance horses. A repeat of that performance would make him the one to beat returning against his own age group.

Southern Cal takes a big step up in class after finishing second under entry-level allowance conditions on July 4. He should continue to improve with experience, as indicated by his recent bullet work on the main track, and he will likely be the one to catch in the Simply Majestic.

Slant is another improving 3-year-old, having earned a career-best 86 Beyer Speed Figure winning a maiden race earlier this month. But like Southern Cal, he faces a much tougher assignment on Saturday.