10/06/2001 12:00AM

TV Sports Director highlights Calder stake


MIAMI - T V Sports Director bounced back from the worst performance of his career to register perhaps his best effort yet, rallying to a 1-length victory over Tour of the Cat in Saturday's $50,000 Needles Stakes at Calder.

T V Sports Director finished seventh, beaten nearly 32 lengths, in the Unbridled Stakes on Aug. 19 when he returned to the main track for the first time in nearly five months. After that, trainer Reed Combest discovered the 3-year-old colt had an illness that was affecting his cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

But T V Sports Director responded to treatment and looked like his old self in the Needles, hugging the hedge early before easing out and readily running down Tour of the Cat through the stretch under a well judged ride by Jose Rivera II. Vikadontis rallied belatedly to finish third.

T V Sports Director, who has finished worse than second just once in nine starts on grass, paid $6.80 as the favorite in a full field of 12 3-year-old colts and geldings. His final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.40 over a good course.

Combest said T V Sports Director will now be pointed for the $200,000 Calder Derby on Oct. 20.