11/08/2008 1:00AM

Top two jocks seek deal


MIAMI - Paco Lopez and Manoel Cruz, who have dominated the jockey standings at Calder all year, were conspicuous by their absence when entries were originally drawn for Sunday and Monday programs.

Lopez ran away with the Calder riding title and leads all riders in wins after the opening two weeks of the Tropical meet. He is a leading candidate for an Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice in 2008. Cruz finished second behind Lopez at the Calder meet and is chasing him again while defending his Tropical title. Both jockeys have a series of riding suspensions on appeal, Lopez's totaling 68 days and Cruz a comparatively modest 17 days.

According to track officials, the agents for Lopez and Cruz did not accept calls for Sunday or Monday on the assumption their riders would begin serving part of their suspensions those days. Lopez and Cruz have hired an attorney to attempt reaching a deal with the state and Calder under which they would not have to serve the entire term of their suspensions.

"I was surprised when I heard both riders originally took themselves off on Sunday and Monday," said Kevin Scheen, the steward representing the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering at Calder. "I immediately checked with my office to see if any directives had come in regarding either rider but found that no official orders had been signed by the division. All I really know at this point is that an appeal hearing for Lopez, which had been scheduled earlier this month, had been postponed."

Scheen confirmed that both Lopez and Cruz were still eligible to ride and were likely to pick up mounts on the Sunday and Monday programs.

Both jockeys were named on horses for Tuesday's card, which was drawn late Saturday afternoon.

B L's Tsumani tries to reverse form Monday

Trainer David Vivian is hoping he will have better luck when he sends out B L's Tsumani as one of the choices in Monday's optional $16,000 claiming feature than he had here Saturday when he watched in disgust as his even-money Soldier's Dancer stumbled leaving the gate, unseating Cruz at the start of the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup.

The 3-year-old B L's Tsumani has been successful albeit inconsistent for Vivian all year. He won two first-level optional claiming races similar to Monday's main event earlier in the season, but also has finished far back in several other starts, including an eighth-place finish against conditioned claiming opposition two weeks ago.

Other top contenders include James Wilfred, Macho Grande, and Sea Mount.