12/31/2005 12:00AM

Turf sprint closes out meeting


MIAMI - Calder's Tropical Park meeting comes to a close on Monday with a 12-race program highlighted by the $40,000 Lola Bella Stakes, an overnight stakes carded at five furlongs on the turf. Racing on the south Florida circuit resumes Wednesday with the opening of the Gulfstream Park meeting, although for the first time in its 35-year history Calder will stay open this winter for simulcast wagering.

The Lola Bella drew a field of 16 horses of which only 10 will start if the race goes as scheduled on the grass. Courageous King, a stakes winner on turf this summer at Del Mar, is the one to beat, despite coming off a second-place finish as the 7-5 choice under allowance conditions at Tampa Bay Downs last out.

Trained by Wesley Ward, Courageous King earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in five of his seven starts in 2005, including twice on grass. He rallied to a one-length victory over Roi Charmont in Del Mar's Green Flash Handicap in his turf debut on Aug. 17, and finished fourth, beaten a neck after a slow start, in Santa Anita's Grade 3 Morvich Handicap on turf.

Mike Smith, who rode Courageous King in the Green Flash, is up again on Monday.

Nightmare Affair, among the top main-track sprinters at Calder the past two seasons, will try the turf in the Lola Bella. The stretch-running Nightmare Affair closed out his 2005 campaign with victories in the Major Moran Stakes and Groomstick Handicap. He also was third here this summer in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap.

Nightmare Affair is winless on grass but has a second and a third in four previous tries over the surface.

Atticus Kristy, who finished a neck behind Courageous King when they met last month at Tampa, aims to reverse that decision. A four-time winner in 2005, Atticus Kristy earned a career best 102 Beyer twice in a two-week span this fall, winning the Cherokee Run Handicap at Churchill Downs and running third in Woodbine's Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap.

Tacirring, a versatile 7-year-old, closed out his 2005 campaign by rallying to a 1 1/4-length win in the Tom Edison on the main track at The Meadowlands. He also posted four victories in turf sprints last year, including two in stakes.