12/03/2001 1:00AM

Lightweights may not make it


MIAMI - Trainers have been complaining about racing secretaries putting too much weight on their horses since the first handicap races were run over a century ago. But when the numbers were released for Saturday's $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder some horseman might have been grumbling because their nominees weren't assigned enough weight by racing secretary Bob Umphrey for the Grade 3 stakes.

Several trainers might have been willing to carry an extra pound or two in the Tropical Turf because the race is certain to overfill and only 12 horses are allowed to start in the 1 1/8-mile grass fixture. Highweights get preference and the weight assignments will determine who gets into the starting gate and who will wind up on the outside looking in.

The cutoff point at the moment appears to be 113 pounds, which could put such potential starters as Dillonmyboy or Saint Joseph on the fence when entries are drawn for the Tropical Turf on Wednesday. Anybody assigned 112 pounds or lower figures to be looking for another spot to run this weekend.

At the other end of the spectrum, Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Forbidden Apple was assigned highweight of 121 for the Tropical Turf but will pass it for the Hong Kong Cup on Dec. 16. His defection leaves locally based Band Is Passing as the likely starting highweight under 118 pounds followed by Tijiyr and Crash Course at 116 each. The stretch-running Crash Course, winner of the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Handicap at The Meadowlands in late September and third, beaten a half-length in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap at Belmont Park in his last start, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 for trainer Jimmy Croll Jr. at Gulfstream Park on Sunday morning and could prove the one to beat if the pace is legitimate.

Among the other likely starters, all of whom are weighted at 114 or above, are Mr. Livingston, who continues to train brilliantly over his home course, Rize, Slew Valley, Unite's Big Red, American Halo, One Eyed Joker, Profit Option, and Spindrift.

Trip to Puerto Rico for Homeister

Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., currently third in the Tropical meet standings, will become the first female jockey to compete in the Clasico del Caribe at Puerto Rico's El Comandante Racetrack on Sunday. Homeister will be aboard one of the favorites, Alexia, in the most important race of the year for the Caribbean Horse Racing Confederation.

Homeister was scheduled to be on suspension Sunday after being given days for her ride aboard Tour's Quick Gal in the fifth race on Nov. 26 but has appealed the stewards' decision. A hearing on her appeal will be heard when she returns next week.

Kiss a Native's homecoming

Kiss a Native, who rose from the claiming ranks to win the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Series for trainer Bill White in 1999, has returned to his old home at Calder to prepare for his next start in the $100,000 Fred Hooper Handicap on Dec. 29.

Kiss a Native, who is undefeated in three starts over this track, has been trained by David Bell while stabled at Woodbine since leaving south Florida for his 3-year-old campaign. His most important victory came last fall in the Grade 2 Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands.