07/17/2004 12:00AM

'Livingston' out West for Grade 1


MIAMI - Mr. Livingston is possibly the best of the local turf division following his decisive victory in the Carterista Handicap earlier in the meet. Now trainer Bill Kaplan and owners Teresa and David Palmer have decided to find out where the veteran grass specialist fits on a national level.

Mr. Livingston will take on Grade 1 competition Sunday in Del Mar's prestigious Eddie Read Handicap. Sent to the California barn of Kaplan's friend Howard Zucker early last week, Mr. Livingston will have a chance to get a feel for the course when he works over the Del Mar turf on Monday morning.

Kaplan said the decision to send Mr. Livingston cross-country for the Eddie Read came about shortly after he was forced to scratch the graded stakes winner out of the Mecke Handicap on July 4. Mr. Livingston would have been the likely favorite had he started in the Mecke.

"He turned an ankle slightly while galloping the day before the race," said Kaplan. "He probably could have run in the Mecke, but we decided to scratch him for precautionary reasons. Once that happened, the Palmers decided to try the Eddie Read and take a chance to get him Grade 1-placed. The turf course at Del Mar is very good and hard, just the way he likes it. It looks like we might catch a short field, and they also have family in the area."

Mr. Livingston is a 7-year-old son of El Prado. He has won 10 of 38 starts for earnings of nearly $430,000 despite having his career interrupted on a couple of occasions because of what Kaplan described as "a couple of different little problems." The Carterista was Mr. Livingston's first victory since he captured an overnight stakes here more than 10 months earlier.

"He's had his little troubles but he's going very well now," said Kaplan, who will bring jockey Chris Morales along to ride Mr. Livingston in the Eddie Read.

Meeting to take short break

This week will be the final full week of live racing here during July. Calder will be dark from July 26 through July 30 and will resume its regular schedule on July 31. There will be simulcast wagering offered throughout that period.

Eddie Castro Jr. will go into the break with a comfortable lead in quest of his first Calder riding title. Castro, the Eclipse Award winner as the nation's best apprentice in 2003, held a 14-victory advantage (65-51) over Manny Aguilar entering the weekend's action, with defending champ Manoel Cruz three back in third.

Bill White headed into the weekend with 28 victories, 11 more than his closest pursuer, Manny Tortora. Eddie Plesa Jr. and Henry Collazo had 16 victories each, and Kathleen O'Connell had 15. White is seeking his eighth consecutive training title.