06/04/2003 11:00PM

Lord Abounding faces Built Up in Ponche


MIAMI - If at first you don't succeed . . .

Racing secretary Bobby Umphrey, frustrated in his first attempt to card the $75,000 Ponche Handicap as originally scheduled last weekend, had little trouble making the race go Saturday, putting together a field of seven older horses led by Built Up and Lord Abounding.

The six-furlong Ponche will top a 14-race program at Calder that also includes the $40,000 Dartsum Handicap and simulcast wagering on the Belmont Stakes.

Built Up will carry high weight of 119 pounds in the Ponche, although Lord Abounding is the horse to beat based on his fifth-place finish behind Aldebaran in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day.

Lord Abounding, claimed for $150,000 by trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. for the Bridle Path Racing Stable on March 22, drew away from a strong field around the turn and into the stretch of the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Handicap. But he succumbed in the final furlong and was defeated by three lengths by Aldebaran, who came back after that race to win the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile.

The Ponche marks the local debut for Lord Abounding, a son of Lord Avie who turns back to six furlongs for the first time since finishing sixth under a $65,000 claiming tag at Aqueduct in his finale as a 3-year-old.

Built Up moved to the top of the local sprint division when he closed out his 2002 campaign with a one-length victory over his arch-rival Tour of the Cat in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap.

Given four months off by trainer Enrique Alonso, Built Up launched his 2003 season with a win in the Hooters Sprint at Tampa Bay Downs on April 6. He comes into the Ponche off a third-place finish here as the 6-5 favorite in the That's Our Buck Handicap.

Danaher Steve outfinished Hana Highway to win the That's Our Buck while making his first start since being re-claimed by trainer James Bracken for $50,000 on March 22. He earned a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

Both Juggernaut and Love My Mountain come into the Ponche off allowance victories.

Barnacle Steve and Straight A round out the field.

* Love the Game, who rallied to win a division of the Blazing Sword Stakes and the Carterista Handicap in his last two starts, will again be the one to beat if the Dartsum stays on the turf. A stretch-running son of Mecke, Love the Game should find an honest pace to run at because speedsters Jeb's Strategy, Honorable Pic, and Bog Hunter are all in the starting lineup.