05/23/2003 11:00PM

High Ideal fortunate to avoid his nemesis


MIAMI - A year ago, Best of the Rest defeated High Ideal by a hard-fought half-length in the $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap at Calder. Marty Wolfson, trainer of High Ideal, expected a rematch on Monday.

But after Best of the Rest was withdrawn from consideration for the race due to a quarter crack, Wolfson now clearly has the horse to beat.

High Ideal is one of seven horses entered in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day Handicap. The remainder of the field consists of Lavender's Lad, Parrott Bay, Mr. Livingston, Dancing Guy, Sebastian Light, and Shotgun Fire, an uncoupled stablemate of High Ideal.

High Ideal earned a career-best Beyer of 110 but still had to settle for second behind Best of the Rest when they met last season.

"It was probably the best race of his career even though he didn't win, especially considering he didn't change leads properly down the stretch," said Wolfson. "That has always been a big problem with this horse. He has just got a mind of his own, although he did switch leads in his last start and hopefully he will do it again on Monday."

In his 2003 debut, High Ideal came off a four-month freshening and easily defeated a strong field of high-priced optional claimers that included Lavender's Lad and Sebastian Light. High Ideal went right to the front in that race but may defer to the early speed of his stablemate, Shotgun Fire, in Monday's race. High Ideal, who breaks from the rail under jockey Jesus Castanon, might try to run from just off the pace.

Mr. Livingston has not raced on dirt since his 3-year-old campaign, when he placed in graded stakes over the surface. A son of El Prado, Mr. Livingston comes into the Memorial Day Handicap off a neck victory in the first and faster division of the Blazing Sword Stakes on opening day of the meet.

Parrott Bay is the highweight under 114 pounds despite having gone winless in five starts this year. He did finish third, beaten just a neck by Fight for Ally and Colonial Colony, in the Grade 3 National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne on April 19.

Dancing Guy's form has tailed off over the past year, although he was competitive with Best of the Rest and the best of the local handicap division on several occasions in 2002.