08/17/2005 11:00PM

Turf field full of zig-zagging form


MIAMI - Grass horses are supposed to hold their form better than their main-track counterparts, but you'd never prove that theory by using the local turf handicap division as an example. The unpredictable group will gather again at Calder on Saturday for the $40,000 Absent Russian Stakes, with any of at least a half-dozen members of the 12-horse field likely to come away with a victory in the 1 1/8-mile overnight event.

Keep Cool, who upset the Mecke Handicap at 9-1 on July 4, may be the slight favorite in the Absent Russian considering his proficiency at the distance. A son of the standout turf runner Frosty the Snowman, Keep Cool has won four of his five previous starts going nine furlongs on grass, with his lone setback coming against the likes of Host and Silver Tree in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap here last fall.

But Keep Cool remains as much an enigma as the rest of the field. His gate-to-wire win in the Mecke was his first victory in five starts dating back to Jan. 22 at Gulfstream Park. In his most recent appearance, Keep Cool failed to even show his usual early speed, dropping far back early before finishing fifth behind Southern Cal in The Vid Stakes here July 31.

Final Prophecy is another member of this lineup whose form has been up and down. A stretch-running son of World Stage, Final Prophecy rallied to upset the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup at 57-1 in November, went winless in his next five starts, then briefly moved to the head of the class with back-to-back stakes victories earlier in the meet. But Final Prophecy failed to duplicate that form in either of his last two starts, finishing seventh as the favorite in the Mecke and a nonthreatening third in The Vid.

Bob's Proud Moment has held his form better than most in this field, finishing second in both The Vid and the Mecke, although he remains winless in 10 starts since October 2004.

Pah enters the Absent Russian off a third-level optional claiming victory, but he has failed to handle the jump up to stakes company in his three attempts in the past year.

Cervelo captured the Blazing Sword Stakes over a sloppy track on June 5, and has had nothing but bad luck ever since. He reared at the start and lost his rider leaving the gate in the Mecke, then encountered trouble before finishing fifth in a main-track allowance eight days later.