12/15/2005 12:00AM

Mister Fotis back at his best


NEW YORK - The Grade 1, $250,000 Hollywood Futurity shares top billing Saturday with Calder Race Course's Grand Slam II program, which features four stakes, including the W.L. McKnight and the La Prevoyante, a pair of Grade 2, $200,000 handicap events.

Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap

This is one of the stakes on the Grand Slam II card, and Silver Wagon figures to be a heavy favorite. It's easy to see why. Silver Wagon competed in Grade 1 events in 4 of his last 5 starts - facing horses such as Ghostzapper, Taste of Paradise, and Purge - and did not finish worse than fourth in any of them. This is a much easier spot, but I'm still going against him. Silver Wagon's only career stakes win came in the 2003 Hopeful, and he has only won 1 of 12 starts since. Even if Silver Wagon has been facing much better, when you couple that kind of low success rate with short odds, I'm going to bet against most of the time.

I like Mister Fotis, who was also entered in Calder's Fred W. Hooper Handicap, but who should go in this race instead, as he is better suited to sprinting. After a big slump during the summer, Mister Fotis signaled two starts back that he was ready to regain the kind of form he demonstrated last winter, when he posted two big wins at Calder and was a fine second in the Deputy Minister Handicap at Gulfstream. Sure enough, after that improved fourth-place finish two races ago, Mister Fotis last time out finished like a wild horse to be second in the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap.

Mister Fotis will probably be a pace factor this time, because there isn't a lot of serious early speed in this field. That's fine. When Mister Fotis was sharp last winter, he raced with the pace.

W.L. McKnight Handicap

There is a Silver Wagon-like situation in this race, and it involves Meteor Storm. Six of Meteor Storm's eight starts this year came in Grade 1 races, and he finished worse than fourth in only one of them. Meteor Storm has not won this year, though, and that is troubling when you consider that he will be one of the favorites in this race. The difference here is that Meteor Storm is a multiple graded stakes winner, so he must be respected. But I'm still going to try to beat him.

Silverfoot is the play. He was not disgraced when he finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf last time out, and two starts back he crushed a field that, with the exception of Meteor Storm, was not unlike this one when he romped in the Kentucky Cup Turf. Silverfoot also ran well at extended distances earlier in the year, winning the Louisville Handicap and finishing second in the United Nations Handicap, showing that he can adapt to various pace scenarios.

Ladies Handicap

Bohemian Lady narrowly missed against the high-class Stellar Jayne last time out, has the best recent Beyer Speed Figures, and should go right to the front. But she is also a complete unknown at the 1 1/4-mile distance, so I'll opt for Taittinger Rose.

Slow paces put Taittinger Rose close to the early lead in her last two starts, but she is most effective when allowed to settle early and make one run. She will be able to use that running style in this race, and that should help her return to her sharp form of three and four starts back, when she won a restricted stakes at Belmont and was narrowly beaten in the Long Look at The Meadowlands.