12/29/2007 12:00AM

Sparkle City may stalk speed

EmailMIAMI - People must have a party to go to. The only thing close to resembling a feature race on a New Year's Eve card at Calder Race Course is a $50,000 conditioned claimer that will put a punctuation mark on 2007 for south Florida racegoers.

Carded as the ninth of 10 races, the race carries a purse of $23,500 and is restricted to 2-year-olds that have never won two races. Sparkle City, owned and trained by Danny Hurtak, looks like the horse to beat in a field of six after finishing second, beaten a neck, under similar conditions for a $40,000 tag here Dec. 2.

Sparkle City, by Trippi, is making his seventh start but already is on his third trainer. The Florida-bred gelding began his career in July at Calder - the only track at which he has ever raced. When he made his second start the next month, he was claimed by Herman Wilensky out of a $40,000 maiden-claiming sprint from owner-trainer Luis Olivares.

After nearly eight weeks off, Sparkle City returned in early October and finished third in a $32,000 maiden claimer, then wheeled back two weeks later to dominate $25,000 maidens, winning off by 7 1/4 lengths as the 7-5 favorite. The gelding then was claimed by Hurtak from his next start, a Nov. 12 race in which he faded badly after prompting the pace.

Sparkle City, with Eibar Coa taking the mount, has developed a stalking style that should serve him well at six furlongs Monday. Several of his rivals have speed, most notably Pensylvaniaexpress, an interesting-looking colt who was bred by his owner-trainer, Heidi Crane.

Pensylvaniaexpress, with Eduardo Nunez to ride, was overmatched when finishing far back in his last race, the Nov. 24 Pennsylvania Nursery at Philadelphia Park, but he should be able to take his speed deeper into this one when he takes what amounts to a drop in class.

The rest of the field includes Civil Suit, who returns to a dirt sprint after a failed effort in a recent turf route; Great Victorian, a winner over cheaper company in his last start; Raymundo, a probable pace factor who was third in the Dec. 2 race in which Sparkle City was second; and Im Not Sneaky, who raises substantially off a runner-up effort versus $12,500 claimers.

Racing continues at the Tropical-at-Calder meet through Wednesday, after which live action on the south Florida circuit shifts to Gulfstream Park on Thursday.