07/01/2002 11:00PM

Off track would favor Sir Bear


MIAMI - When entries were drawn Monday for Thursday's $100,000 Americana Handicap at Calder, rain was falling in buckets over a turf course that had not seen any action since June 9. So it was no surprise that four of the 11 horses entered for the Americana, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over the grass, were entered for dirt only, including Sir Bear and Wertz.

Sir Bear has not started since having bled in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap on May 18. Trainer Ralph Ziadie has put two sharp works under Sir Bear's belt, including five furlongs in 1:00 on Saturday.

"We'll definitely take a run at it if the race comes off the grass," said Ziadie on Monday of the Americana. "The last time he worked was pretty good, although he's probably going to need a race anyway. I also wouldn't mind if the tracks stays sloppy, like it is today. He doesn't like the Calder surface as much as some others, but a wet track might compensate for that a little bit."

Sir Bear has five wins and three seconds in eight wet-track starts during a career that has seen him win three Grade 1 races and earn more than $2.5 million. Gary Boulanger has picked up the mount.

Wertz has won his last two starts in the slop: an eight-length victory in the off-the-turf Carterista Handicap on May 18 and a head decision over Dancing Guy in an allowance race just 12 days ago.

Dancing Guy and High Ideal were also entered for dirt only. High Ideal looks to rebound from a third-place finish behind Wertz on June 22, which came after two sharp second-place effort behind Best of the Rest that earned High Ideal triple-digit Beyer Figures.

If the Americana somehow stays on the turf, Unite's Big Red and Marquette are the ones to beat.

Unite's Big Red, a Grade 1 winner, has not started since finishing third in the Jackie Wackie Handicap on April 28. Before that he upset Gulfstream Park's Equalize Stakes.

Marquette finished three lengths behind Unite's Big Red in the Jackie Wackie. After a dull showing in West Virginia, he returned home and won the nine-furlong Kissin Kris Handicap by 4 1/4 lengths earlier this month. Now 6, Marquette won Saratoga's Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Handicap in 1999.

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