08/02/2001 11:00PM

Rain creates spot for dirt fillies


MIAMI - Opportunities for older fillies and mares in the handicap division at Calder are few and far between for the remainder of the summer, so when one pops up, even unexpectedly, a trainer has to take advantage of the situation. That's why Bill Kaplan and Marty Wolfson have entered Castlebrook and Coolbythepool in Sunday's $50,000 Liberada Handicap.

The Liberada is scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and under normal circumstances neither filly would have run in that spot. Because of several days of heavy rain the race is certain to move to the main track, creating one more chance for both fillies to pick up another big paycheck.

Castlebrook is the undisputed leader of the filly and mare handicap division following a pair of impressive victories in the Ms Jealski and Mias Hope handicaps. Off the board in her only two previous turf experiences, the Liberada was probably the furthest thing from Kaplan's mind until the weather intervened.

"We had planned to nominate her to the race and enter her on dirt only all along," Kaplan said. "Around here this time of year, you just never know what can happen. And now with all the rain, it looks like she'll get to run."

The only other dirt stakes on the schedule between now and the middle of October are the Nancy's Glitter on Aug. 25 and the Shocker T. on Oct. 13.

Coolbythepool finished just a half-length behind Castlebrook in the Mias Hope, rallying from well back in a promising performance. The effort was her best yet around two turns and she is likely to improve with that race under her belt.

Coolbythepool is one of three fillies Wolfson entered for the Liberada. The other two, Smilin' N Blushing and Chimaera, are both grass specialists and will not likely start.

Coolbythepool finished 10th, beaten nine lengths, in her only turf appearance, which came in the Tropical Park Oaks in her 3-year-old debut.

Of the 14 fillies and mares entered for the Liberada it is likely only six or seven will start on the dirt.

Cleary's labor of love

It was five years ago last Sunday when Robyn Cleary was left paralyzed by a training hours accident at Calder. But despite being confined to a wheelchair, Cleary has been one of the most active supporters of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, embarking on a personal campaign over the past four years to raise funds from among the local racing community.

Cleary has already raised more than $250,000 for the Miami Project, $158,000 of that total coming this past year.

"I do most of my fund raising during the winter when the northern horsemen are in the area," said Cleary. "I go to all the tracks, farms, and training centers and the response and support continues to be overwhelming. I've received donations not only from owners and trainers but also grooms, hotwalkers, jockeys, veterinarians, blacksmiths, van companies, sales companies, sales agents, farms, and the racetracks themselves."

Cleary said the biggest single contribution she received came last winter from Peter Savill of the British Racing Association, who donated $75,000 to the Miami Project.

"I can't thank everyone enough for their continued support," said Cleary who will begin her 2002 fund-raising campaign in January. "I will not stop until I have exhausted every contact and we've raised enough money to get everyone out of their wheelchairs."