05/07/2003 11:00PM

Look twice before taking a chance on Just Listen


MIAMI - Just Listen should benefit from a perfect pace set-up and is the class of the field for Saturday's $75,000 Carterista Handicap at Calder. But before rushing to the windows to back Just Listen at what figures to be a short price one should also be well aware that the 7-year-old has not won a race in almost four years and has posted just a single victory in 27 previous starts on grass.

Just Listen held his own against some of the top long-distance turf performers on the East Coast this winter at Gulfstream Park, where he finished second behind Man From Wicklow in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap and third to Riddlesdown in the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida. He has also shown marked improvement since switching to trainer Joseph Catanese III's barn following a long layoff near the tail end of 2002 and has handled the mile and a sixteenth distance of the Carterista nicely on several occasions.

But Just Listen has not crossed the finish line first since being disqualified from an apparent victory in the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap in December of 1999 nor won a race since earlier that same season.

Regular rider Rosemary Homeister Jr. will again have the assignment.

Should Just Listen continue his non-winning ways, Simmer might be the most likely candidate to capture the Carterista.

Simmer has held his form extremely well against top-caliber competition since being claimed for $32,000 here last fall. He may also have been best in the first and swifter division of the Blazing Sword here opening day when he finished a close third behind the odds-on Mr. Livingston despite being forced to steady while rallying near midstretch.

The presence of Rakoon, Cellars Merlot, and Honorable Pic should assure a legitimate pace.

Rakoon finished second, a half-length before Simmer, in the opening division of the Blazing Sword after stalking the early pace of Honorable Pic.

Cellars Merlot led throughout to defeat allowance company in each of his last two starts but will make his stakes debut on Saturday.

Love the Game rallied off a very fast pace and overcame traffic problems on the turn to win the second division of the Blazing Sword and should again benefit from the pace scenario as well as the added distance of the Carterista.

oBeginning Saturday, pick-4 wagering will be offered on the last four races on a daily basis throughout the remainder of the meet.