11/10/2007 1:00AM

Purses lowered, two stakes cut

EmailMIAMI - Citing declining handle and attendance figures, Calder management has announced that overnight purses will be cut 7 percent effective with Thursday's program. The 2007-2008 Tropical at Calder meet runs through Jan. 2.

Two stakes races, the $100,000 Kris S. and $100,000 Cherokee Frolic, have also been canceled. Both 2-year-old events were scheduled to be run on Dec. 8. Purses for all remaining overnight stakes and handicaps will be reduced from $50,000 to $35,000.

Phil Combest, vice president of the Florida Division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said the announcement caught horsemen by surprise.

"We've called an emergency meeting of the board of the directors of the HBPA for Monday to attempt to come up with some solutions or suggestions which might help rectify this situation from the horsemens' standpoint," said Combest.

Overnight purses for the Tropical meet, which began on Oct. 15, have averaged approximately $169,000 daily and will now drop to approximately $160,000 to $162,000 per day, according to racing secretary Mike Anifantis.

Pir at the Moon faces winners

After watching Pir at the Moon overcome some early trouble and his own aggressiveness to win his career debut going two turns on the grass, trainer Herman Wilensky has every right to believe his 2-year-old may have a big future.

He will have a better idea by mid-afternoon Monday after Pir at the Moon returns in one of two entry-level allowance races scheduled at 1o1/16 miles on the turf.

Pir at the Moon had to steady along repeatedly while racing rankly behind the early leaders when launching his career on Sept. 21. Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez was content to stay along the hedge and was ultimately rewarded for his patience when the rail opened up through the stretch and Pir at the Moon came through like an experienced horse to win going away.

Earlier on the card, older horses will square off under similar allowance conditions on the grass.

* Robert Poncin, a long time groom for various horsemen, including Allan Jerkens, died recently. Poncin had been working for the FHBPA.