06/11/2010 12:00AM

Mean Sax won't be alone up front this time


MIAMI - The nine-furlong Mecke Stakes here on May 22 was all but decided after the opening half-mile, when Mean Sax was allowed to cruise through early fractions of 24.82 and 49.73 seconds over a rock-hard turf course. The dawdling pace allowed Mean Sax to have enough left in the tank to register a one-length victory over Black Scorpion and a host of other contenders who had little chance to make up any ground through the stretch considering the way the event had unfolded.

Mean Sax returns Saturday at Calder against virtually the same field in the $55,000 Blazing Sword overnight stakes, and despite having to carry his speed only one mile this time around, there are several reasons to believe he may have a difficult time repeating his previous victory three weeks ago.

Mean Sax will pick up four pounds as a result of his win in the Mecke and will now concede weight to all of his recent challengers. There is also a lot more speed signed on for the Blazing Sword, with the presence of Cinnamon Road and Tarzanito almost assuring that Mean Sax won't even see the lead on Saturday if they all go.

On the bright side for Mean Sax and owner-trainer Steve Dwoskin is the fact he has shown the ability to pick up horses through the stretch, has finished first or second in six of his seven career starts at a mile on turf, and has been worse than third in just one of nine tries over the local course. Mean Sax is also a winner on dirt should the Blazing Sword be switched to the main track due to rain.

Black Scorpion, Dinner in Odem, Fearless Eagle, and Grand Cash, the second- through fifth-place finishers in the Mecke, have all signed on again for Saturday's rematch.

Black Scorpion remains in peak form, although he has been stuck in second gear for a while, having been the runner-up in three of his last four starts.

Dinner in Odem finished fourth behind Picou in Tampa's Turf Classic earlier this season and is a late-running sort who needs plenty of pace to be most effective.

Fearless Eagle surprisingly took back off Mean Sax's slow pace in the Mecke after making the lead against stronger in the Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap on opening day.

Grand Cash has been off his best game for a while and is another stretch-runner who had little chance considering the slow pace in the Mecke.

Cinnamon Road looms a dangerous contender and perhaps ultimately the one to catch on Saturday, especially if the main event should be taken off the grass. The speedy 4-year-old recently finished third on the main track after setting the early pace in the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap.

* Apprentice riders dominated Thursday's card with both Luis Saez and Angel Moreno sharing daily honors with three victories apiece. In fact the pair had accounted for six of the first seven events on the eight race program before Edgar Perez won the nightcap for trainer Kate Francy aboard the 9-5 Prizes Galore.

* The recent retirement of Calder's longtime assistant racing secretary Bob Voelkner has led to a reshuffling of the local official family. Former steward Jeff Noe will replace Voelkner as assistant to racing secretary Mike Anifantis. Larry Hill has moved into Noe's seat in the stewards' stand, while Gordon Richards has replaced Hill as horse identifier.