09/27/2006 11:00PM

Irish Caton should be coming on in stretch

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MIAMI - With Festival of the Sun Preview Day in the rear-view mirror and the big Festival of the Sun program just over the horizon, Saturday's 13-race card at Calder represents the lull in between the two, with a $26,000 first-level allowance race on the turf for fillies and mares serving as the afternoon's feature event.

What Saturday's headliner lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity, with a full field of 12 signed on for what looks like an extremely wide-open betting affair if it goes as scheduled on grass.

The stretch-running Irish Caton, who has held her own with better competition going two turns on the turf, may deserve a slight edge in a race that figures to feature a very honest pace. Irish Caton is turning back to five furlongs off a steady diet of longer races. She rallied to win a high-priced claiming event at 7 1/2 furlongs on grass here in late May and should be coming best of all at the end.

The speed of the field figures to be provided by Amandine, My Dixie Dancer, and Karonova.

Amandine turned in a couple of sharp efforts under similar conditions last winter at Gulfstream Park but has started just once since, winning a $16,000 claiming dash over a wet track on June 11. My Dixie Dancer has yet to be outrun to the lead in her three starts but is unproven on grass. Karonova is another who rarely is headed during the early stages of her races and comes off an easy six-length maiden victory, but like My Dixie Dancer has yet to try the turf.

Along with Irish Caton, turf veterans With Essence and Heavenly Reward To figure to receive plenty of support and come running at the end. The lightly raced Annies Fuse, who performed well at Louisiana Downs in her only turf appearance, also figures among the more logical contenders.

Nomination deadline for festival

Nominations for six of the eight stakes on the $1.6 million Festival of the Sun card close Saturday. They are the Grade 3, $200,000 Calder Derby, the $200,000 Calder Oaks, the Grade 3, $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap, the $100,000 Shocker T. Handicap, the $100,000 Criterium Stakes, and the $100,000 J J'sdream Stakes. The $400,000 In Reality and My Dear Girl stakes are already closed and have no supplementary clause.

* Calder will offer simulcast wagering on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as well as the Prix du Grand Hotel Barriere from Longchamp this Sunday. Gates open at 11 a.m., with post time for the Arc scheduled for 11:30.