05/16/2007 11:00PM

Rerun appears probable with Tacit Agreement and A. J. Melini


MIAMI - The Calder Race Course record for the lowest exacta payoff in track history is $3.40, set on Aug. 16, 1989. After surviving for more than 17 years, the mark could be in jeopardy on Saturday.

Only five horses have signed on for Saturday's $50,000 Maryland My Maryland, in what on paper appears to be strictly a match race between arch rivals Tacit Agreement and

A. J. Melini. The pair last met in the My Old Kentucky Home Stakes here three weeks ago. Tacit Agreement won that encounter by 10 1/2 lengths as the 8-5 favorite. The exacta that day returned $13.20. If they finish one-two in the same order, as expected, in the 1 3/16-mile Maryland My Maryland, the lowest exacta standard is liable to fall.

The Maryland My Maryland is the middle leg in Calder's triple crown series for older horses, which mirrors the real Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. The final race in the series, the 1 1/2-mile New York New York, is scheduled for Belmont Stakes Day on June 9.

Tacit Agreement and A. J. Melini are no strangers to one another, having also met several times last season. A. J. Melini drew first blood with an easy seven-length victory in the Maryland My Maryland. He also finished a head in front of Tacit Agreement when the two long-distance specialists ran third and fourth on the turf in the 1 1/2-mile Arthur L. Stakes.

Tacit Agreement finally gained a measure of revenge with an easy seven-length win in the two-mile Bob Umphrey Turf Handicap which, because of rain, was decided over a sloppy main track in late July. A. J. Melini countered with a game victory in the Absent Russian Stakes five weeks later, a race in which Tacit Agreement finished a tiring fourth. The two then parted ways, not meeting again until the My Old Kentucky Home earlier this month.

The three others entered for the Maryland My Maryland seem overmatched. Maraquero may be the best of the trio, coming off second- and third-place finishes in overnight handicap races at Tampa Bay Downs, although his ability to stay 1 3/16 miles is questionable.

Hal's Image, who finished nearly seven lengths behind Maraquero at Tampa on April 28, figures to set the early pace in the Maryland My Maryland, although he, too, is suspect at the distance.

Future Drama's last victory was in a mid-priced conditioned claiming race going a mile on the turf at Tampa on April 2.