11/04/2008 12:00AM

Silver Tree battles Soldier's Dancer again

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MIAMI - Silver Tree and Soldier's Dancer. That will be the marquee matchup on Saturday's outstanding Florida Million card at Calder, which also features the return of the undefeated 2-year-old filly sensation Frolic's Dream along with appearances from such notable invaders as Like Now, Icy Atlantic, Peach Flambe, Christmas Ship, and Actin Good.

In all, eight Florida-bred stakes worth a total of $1.2 million will be decided on Saturday's 12-race program.

The amazing Silver Tree, still going strong at age 8, and Soldier's Dancer will meet again in the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup Handicap. Soldier's Dancer won Round 1 when he defeated Silver Tree by 1 1/4 lengths in the Tampa Turf Classic earlier this year. Soldier's Dancer will carry high weight of 122 pounds, conceding Silver Tree a single pound in a field that also includes the Grade 2 winner Icy Atlantic from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher.

It's a Bird, Finallymadeit, and Marnesia's Big Boy were entered in both the Bonnie Heath and the afternoon's featured event, the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic, which is run on the main track. It's a Bird will go postward the starting highweight under 120 pounds if trainer Marty Wolfson opts, as expected, for the Carl G. Rose.

Three highweights skip Million

Several horses were conspicuous by their absence when entries were drawn Monday for the Florida Million. Among those not entered were the topweighted runners in three stakes: Gottcha Gold in the Carl G. Rose, Bayou's Lassie in the $200,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff, and Rockerfeller for the $150,000 Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap.

"I just felt he needed a little more time between races," said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. when asked why he passed the Carl G. Rose with Gottcha Gold. "We received an invitation for the Japan Cup Dirt race and were mulling over possibly making that trip but decided to keep him home. I'll probably point him for the Hooper and then the Sunshine Millions Classic later this winter at Gulfstream Park."

The Grade 3 Hooper will be decided at 1 1/8 miles on Dec. 13. Plesa won the 2007 Hooper with Electrify.

Plesa will still be busy on Florida Million Day. The two-time Tropical at Calder title holder will start horses in four of the eight stakes: Magic Mecke in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup, Yesbyjimminy in the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap, Edgemoor in the Arthur Appleton Juvenile Turf, and Ameribelle in the John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Edgemoor could be the most intriguing member of that quartet. The 2-year-old son of Halo's Image is coming off a third-place finish behind local division leader Big Drama in the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes and will be making his turf debut on Saturday.

"I worked him on the turf last week and he seemed to love it," said Plesa. "He really skipped over it. I'm very anxious to run him in there, no ifs, ands, or buts. We were considering both that race and the [Jack Price Juvenile], but after watching him work on grass there was no longer a decision.

"I thought he made a couple of different moves in his last start and ran really well for a horse with so little experience. He's an up-and-coming horse. It's just a matter of whether he'll be best on turf or dirt."

Wolfson said he wanted more time for Rockerfeller, who is coming off a fourth-place finish in Belmont Park's Grade 1 Vosburgh on Sept. 27. Rockerfeller had sandwiched a pair of stakes wins around a third-place finish behind Benny the Bull in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint in his three previous starts.

"The Vosburgh really took a lot out of him," said Wolfson. "I'm just going to wait and point him for the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream in January."

Million entrants work on turf

The turf course was open for business as usual on Monday, with several trainers taking the opportunity to give their young runners some experience over the surface. Among the Florida Million hopefuls to breeze over the "good" going were This Ones for Phil, who went a bullet five-eighths in 1:00.92 around the dogs for the Appleton, and August Rush, who cruised an easy half-mile in 50.06 in preparation for her role as the likely favorite in the Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Gentleman James drops from stakes

Thursday's $22,400 allowance feature will mark the return of Gentleman James, who battled Golden Spikes to a couple of close decision before settling for second in both the Unbridled and Grade 2 Carry Back stakes here this summer. Gentleman James shipped out of town for his two most recent starts, finishing far back in both the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga and Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park.

Gentleman James will take on older horses for the first time under second-level optional claiming conditions in Thursday's main event, to be decided at six furlongs. The field includes such hard-knocking veterans as Ruby's Red Socks, Pirate King, Champagne Account, and Fortunate Buy. Ruby's Red Socks could come out, as he was also entered in Saturday's Jack Dudley Sprint.

* Speaking of Golden Spikes, he worked a half-mile in 48.40 early Tuesday and is being pointed for an overnight stakes here later this month, according to Wolfson.