06/03/2009 11:00PM

Renda comfortable on dirt or turf


MIAMI - With the weather forecast ominous at best heading into the weekend, the chances of Saturday's $55,000 Liberada Stakes at Calder staying on the grass as scheduled does not look very promising. That does not seem to bother trainer Juan Arias, whose Renda figures to be among the choices whether the 1 1/8-mile overnight stakes is decided over turf or dirt.

Renda (pronounced Henda) has started just once on grass, finishing 10th after pressing the early pace in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She had captured three of her five previous starts on dirt, including a pair of stakes, and was competitive against Grade 3 opposition in her only two losses prior to Breeders' Cup Day.

"As a 2-year-old, I used to work her on the turf here and then run her on dirt, and she gave me a couple of real nice works over this grass course," said Arias. "But the turf course at Santa Anita just wasn't the same type as this one at Calder, and I think it's probably the reason she didn't run as well as we'd have expected in the Breeders' Cup. We also changed her style a little bit and kept her a little closer than usual that day."

Renda, one of only two 3-year-olds in the Liberada, has not been back to the turf since the Breeders' Cup. She opened her 3-year-old season with a promising second-place finish behind Frolic's Dream in Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Forward Gal but tailed off in two subsequent outings, finishing a distant fourth in the Grade 2 Davona Dale and seventh in the Grade 2 Black- Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

"She really didn't handle the track at Pimlico," said Arias. "And going to Maryland was a last-minute decision, so the long trip right on top of the race didn't help matters either. But she's trained well since returning home and I think she's back to her regular form and looks very live in this spot on Saturday, whether it's run on turf or dirt."

If the Liberada goes as scheduled on grass, Eclisse looms the one to catch and beat. Eclisse makes just her second start since early August, but was graded stakes placed on grass a year ago when second in the Grade 3 All Along Breeders' Cup at Colonial Downs.

If the Liberada is switched to the main track, Eclisse's stablemate Awesome Alexandra and the consistent Cat Can Do figures to be the top contenders.