09/03/2003 11:00PM

The Name's Bond on turf again


MIAMI - Trainer Frank Gomez believes The Name's Bond might be a better horse on dirt than grass. The Name's Bond, however, may still be good enough on turf to defeat nine other 3-year-olds in Saturday's $75,000 Needles Stakes at Calder.

The Needles serves as a major prep for the $200,000 Calder Derby Oct. 11.

The Name's Bond has made just two starts on grass, defeating second-level allowance company at Gulfstream Park in his turf debut and finishing a wide-running 10th in the Gleaming Channel Stakes earlier this meet. He has since won two of three races, the Simply Majestic and Always Silver Stakes. A son of Jules, The Name's Bond also won the Ocala Breeders' Championship Stakes in mid-March.

He will carry high weight of 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Needles, including leading rider Manoel Cruz.

The Name's Bond will share high weight with Sea Pleasure, who has also won on both surfaces and is strictly the one to beat if the Needles stays on the turf. Trained by Manny Tortora for owner James Lewis Jr., Sea Pleasure's most important victory came when he rallied to upset older horses in the nine-furlong Americana Handicap on July 4.

The dark horse in the race is He'sanoactor, who will make his stakes debut on Saturday. Claimed for $10,000 at Tampa Bay Downs, He'sanoactor has found a new lease on life since being switched to turf, over which he has been perfect in four starts while steadily ascending the class ladder.

As is the case with all turf stakes scheduled at Calder during the summer, the fate of the Needles could be in the hands of Mother Nature. And should the race be moved to the main track, The Name's Bond will likely face his stiffest challenges from his most recent victim, Lawbook, or the steadily improving Touch Softly.

Lawbook is stretching out around two turns for the first time since having his bid to sweep the 2002 Florida Stallion Stakes series go down the drain when he finished sixth in the In Reality Stakes. Sidelined for seven months after that race, Lawbook was a bit slow to come around this summer but comes off his best effort of the season, dropping a neck decision to The Name's Bond in the Always Silver.

Touch Softly brings a three-race win streak into the Needles that includes an impressive 7 1/2-length allowance victory on Aug. 8.

Millennium Storm, Me My Mine, Mychampion, and Heza Good Guy round out the starting lineup.