11/30/2001 12:00AM

Tropical Turf next target for Brettler


MIAMI - Groomstick Stock's will be a longshot in next Saturday's $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap. But as hot as his trainer, Paul Brettler, has been recently, it might be wise to keep a close eye on Groomstick Stock's, even though he has not run on the grass in over a year.

Brettler has won with four of the seven horses he has saddled during the Tropical meet, his latest victory coming with Highway Prospector in Thursday's feature race. Groomstick Stock's captured his only start during the meet, defeating Dancing Guy by 1 1/2 lengths in in the 6 1/2-furlong Western Borders Handicap.

In order to keep from racing Highway Prospector and Groomstick Stock's against each another, Brettler said he will run Highway Prospector in the seven-furlong Kenny Noe Handicap on Dec. 15 and leave the Tropical Turf to Groomstick Stock's.

Brettler said of Groomstick Stock's: "Even though he's probably a better horse on the dirt, he has won on grass and also finished second to Band Is Passing when that horse was pretty much unbeatable on the turf here last summer. Besides, the Tropical Turf should set him up nicely for my main goal at the moment, which is the Fred Hooper [on Dec. 29]."

Brettler stopped on Groomstick Stock's after the son of Groomstick finished a tiring fifth behind American Halo in the 2000 Hooper. The Western Borders was only his second start on the comeback trail.

"He didn't come out of the Hooper all that well last year and he really needed the time," said Brettler. "Then he suffered one setback after another, which is why it took me so long to get him back to the races."

Brettler claimed Groomstick Stock's for $40,000 and Highway Prospector for $30,000, both for owner Julian Demora. Brettler trains eight horses, all for Demora, but said he is not a private trainer and is seeking other clients for the winter.

Brettler said he claimed Highway Prospector because the horse was by Crafty Prospector. He worked for Jimmy Iselin, who trained Crafty Prospector, and said he "always loved the Crafty Prospectors."

Said Brettler of Highway Prospector: "The only thing that had me scratching my head with him is why he never put two big races back to back. But he finally accomplished that with this latest victory, and off his last two wins deserves a shot against stakes company."

Guidry quick to win

Jockey Mark Guidry, who recently moved his tack here, wasted little time making his presence felt, guiding Rahy's Rhythm to victory in Thursday's fourth race.

Guidry, who has ridden more than 4,000 winners, is based at Calder for the first time. He has ridden in several stakes here over the years and won the 1997 In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Series aboard Excellent Luck.

* There will be steeplechase racing at Calder for the third consecutive year. Two races over the fences will be run on Dec. 9, including the $50,000 Tropical Park Steeplechase. Among the horses expected to compete are Grade 1 winners Al Skywalker and Pinky Swear.