07/18/2007 12:00AM

Magic Mecke at mercy of weather


MIAMI - Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said the one thing he cannot control when it comes to veteran turf specialist Magic Mecke is the weather. Such was the case earlier this month when the 7-year-old's much-anticipated return in the Mecke Handicap was postponed after the race was switched from the grass to the main track due to rain.

Plesa will try to bring Magic Mecke back again on Friday, this time in a $35,000 allowance race that drew a strong field of 10 older horses, including the multiple stakes winner Croton Road. The 1 1/16-mile headliner will top a card that also features a first-level allowance race for 2-year-olds, which for many in the field will serve as a prep for the $100,000 Dr. Fager division of the Florida Stallion Stakes on Aug. 11.

A son of Mecke, Magic Mecke has not started since he finished second behind Revved Up in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup on Nov. 11. He has gone through several similar layoffs in his career.

"He's a delicate type of horse and I guess you can say he's at a disadvantage when coming back from these kind of layoffs, but we've always managed to get him through it pretty well in the past," said Plesa.

Magic Mecke returned from a 7 1/2-month hiatus to win the 2006 Mecke by 2 1/4 lengths. He also bounced back from a 16-month vacation to run a near career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure when finishing third in the 2005 Flying Pidgeon Handicap. Magic Mecke has captured 7 of 22 career starts and earned more than $328,000 for his owner-breeder, the Trilogy Stable.

Plesa said he's hoping Magic Mecke gets the pace he needs to make his late run.

"Like the weather, I can't do much about the pace in these races either, which is also of some concern since he's a come-from-behind horse," said Plesa. "But he couldn't be training any better, and I think he's fresh and versatile enough to deal with the pace."

Croton Road also does his best running from behind. A 4-year-old son of Mr. Greeley, Croton Road is also coming off a freshening, having started but once this season, when he finished fourth behind the multiple Grade 1 winner English Channel under allowance conditions at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 22. As a 3-year-old, Croton Road captured 4 of 10 starts, including the Mel's Hope and Lord Juban stakes.

Like Magic Mecke, Croton Road is training well for his return, having posted a pair of bullet works over the past two weeks for trainer Ron Spatz.

Other key contenders in Friday's headliner, which goes as the second race on the card, include Teofilo and Bob's Proud Moment.

Teofilo has won each of his last three starts on grass. A much- improved 6-year-old, Teofilo was forced to the main track for his most recent outings, finishing third in the Band Is Passing Stakes and fifth in the Mecke.

Bob's Proud Moment, once among the leaders of the local turf division and third in the 2006 Mecke, remains winless since 2005 but did finish second here last fall in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf and Grade 2 W.L. McKnight handicaps.

'Honey' faces two first-out winners

Honey Honey Honey, a troubled third following a slow start in the Criterium Stakes, takes on a pair of debut winners, Hypocrite and Wise Answer, in a five-furlong entry-level allowance dash for 2-year-olds that will be run as Friday's ninth race.

Honey Honey Honey led throughout to open his career with an easy four-length victory, defeating a field that included soon-to-be stakes winner Brother Joey. A slow start and trouble down the backstretch cost Honey Honey Honey his best chance in the Criterium.

Hypocrite finished full of run after taking up sharply and altering course in midstretch to register a visually impressive 1 1/4-length maiden win on June 24. Wise Answer led throughout to post a 2 3/4-length victory June 9.

Extreme Day adds more twists

Calder's second annual Extreme Day at the Races will be held on July 28. Extreme Day, in its second year, includes the World's Fastest Daily Double, which consists of two races run simultaneously on the turf and main tracks; the two-furlong Rocket Man Stakes; and the King George Wrong Way Stakes, which will be decided at 1 3/8 miles clockwise on the turf.

A few new betting wrinkles will be added to Extreme Day this year, including the Show Quinella, a $5 minimum wager which consists of selecting two of the first three finishers irrespective of order in the designated race of the day. There is also the somewhat confusing Harrison Half, in which bettors can make win or exacta bets that will be decided at the half-mile pole in a one-mile race.