10/02/2007 11:00PM

Northern trainers ready to send turf horses south

EmailMIAMI - There may be no leaves turning colors to indicate fall has officially arrived in south Florida but racing fans will surely be able to tell the season is in full bloom and winter just around the corner after perusing the nominations for the $200,000 Calder Derby and $200,000 Calder Oaks.

Among the nominees for the two turf fixtures are horses trained by Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Graham Motion, Michael Matz, Kiaran McLaughlin, Christophe Clement, Jimmy Toner, Dale Romans, and John Terranova. All are regulars on the south Florida circuit each winter.

The Grade 3 Calder Derby and the Oaks are two of the eight stakes to be decided here on the $1.6 million Festival of the Sun program Oct. 13. They will be part of an outstanding program that also features the $400,000 In Reality and $400,000 My Dear Girl finales of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

The 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby lured nominations for 25 3-year-olds, including five from Pletcher, two from Mott, two from Toner, and one each from Matz and Terranova.

Pleasant Strike, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Classic, is the best of the Pletcher possible starters, which also include stakes winners Twilight Meteor and Distorted Reality. Red Giant, winner of the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, was also nominated but he is expected to run in Saturday's Grade 2 Jamaica Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont.

Mott, who won the 2003 Calder Derby with Stroll, has countered with Grade 3 winner Got the Last Laugh and the lightly raced War Monger.

Motion has nominated four of the 17 3-year-old fillies eligible to the 1o1/8-mile Oaks. Of that group, Lady Digby is the one most likely to make the trip to south Florida. Lady Digby, a daughter of Grand Slam, is coming off a third-place finish in her stakes debut in Saratoga's Weekend Madness.

"It's a logical spot for Lady Digby," said Motion. "She ran well last time, although I felt she was a little unlucky. She didn't get into any real trouble but kind of ran out of room when making her run through the stretch. But I thought she ran respectably for the first time against that kind of competition, and the conditions fit her well for the Oaks."

Motion said former Calder riding champion Cornelio Velasquez will have the call on Lady Digby.

The McLaughlin-trained Classic Neel, who won the Weekend Madness, is also among the nominees for the Oaks, as are the Mott-trained Sharp Susan and Winsome Ways, the Clement filly Testama, and the Romans filly Touch My Soul.

Charlie Papa faces males off layoff

Charlie Papa will put her seven-race win streak on the line, weather permitting, against males in Saturday's $50,000 Hooting Star Stakes on the turf.

Charlie Papa, a 6-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie, is undefeated dating back to October 2004. Her streak includes a two-length victory in the Cool Air Stakes here on May 13. Trained in Tampa by Connie Kendall, Indian Charlie has not raced since the Cool Air.

The Hooting Star drew a field of eight, including grass specialists Hollywood Left, Dirtymoposse, and Nacascolo. Finallymadeit and Far West figure to be the main beneficiaries if the five-furlong sprint is switched to the main track.