07/01/2004 11:00PM

Mr. Livingston can win Mecke with clean run


MIAMI - Mr. Livingston couldn't have gotten a better trip en route to his four-length victory in the Carterista Handicap on May 8, when he saved every inch of ground before slipping inside the tiring leaders to post his first win since July 2003.

Trainer Bill Kaplan doesn't expect Mr. Livingston to receive another perfect journey in Saturday's $100,000 Mecke Handicap. But he is confident his multiple-stakes-winning veteran will again prove tough to beat if he gets a clean run in the 1 1/8-mile turf fixture for older horses.

Prior to the Carterista, Mr. Livingston had failed to hit the board in four starts since capturing an overnight stakes here last summer.

"He's had a lot of nagging problems that have stopped him from running his best, but he's doing well now," said Kaplan, who trains Mr. Livingston for Teresa and David Palmer. "And when he's physically right he's as good as anything down here."

Mr. Livingston will carry 117 pounds in the Mecke under jockey Chris Morales, who put up an exceptional ride aboard the 7-year-old in the Carterista.

French Charmer, a two-time stakes winner in 2003, will carry high weight of 118 pounds in the Mecke. The stretch-running son of French Deputy has been off the board in each of his last three starts and is idle since finishing seventh in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Handicap on Feb. 14.

The Mecke has also attracted Believe I Can Fly, Marco's Word, and Hear No Evil, the second-, third-, and sixth-place finishers behind Mr. Livingston in the Carterista. Of the group, Hear No Evil could prove the most dangerous if allowed to relax on the lead, as he did when finishing second behind Proud Man in the Sunshine Millions Turf this year.

Among the major question marks in the race is Twilight Road, who has won each of his last two starts, including the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap on May 31. The Mecke will be only the second grass start for the 7-year-old Twilight Road in his 42-race career.

Classic Par has shipped in from Kentucky to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who will also send out Unbridels King as part of an uncoupled entry. The remainder of the field comprises Must Respect, Coahoma, Smooth Lover, and Mister Blister.

* Calder will hold a jockey autograph session on Sunday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the paddock walking ring. A full-color photograph of the current jockey colony will be given away at the event.