07/13/2006 11:00PM

Wrong way was the right way this time


MIAMI - Several horses prepping for the "wrong way" race on next Saturday's Extreme Day program took advantage of the opportunity to work clockwise over the main track at the conclusion of regular training hours on Friday, and the experiment seemed to go off without much incident.

Both Automatic Weapon and Blue Mon handled the switch without a problem, although Quakers Appeal, who likely will be among the favorites in the 1 3/8-mile starter allowance race, did drift to the middle of the racetrack upon leaving the turn and heading "up" the stretch toward the finish line.

Tim Ritvo, who trains Automatic Weapon, said the biggest problem was figuring out, along with the exercise riders, exactly where to turn around following the warmup and what pole to break off at to begin the work.

"Everything was a little confusing when we first got out there this morning, but my horse handled it okay," said Ritvo. "The main thing I was worried about was our horse running up the gap instead of continuing around the turn, but my rider said he never even looked at it."

Although Friday morning's clockwise works were held on the main track, the wrong way race will be run on the turf. Track officials wanted to open the grass for Friday's trial runs but were unable to do so because of the condition of the course, which has been drenched by heavy rains for the past several days.

"I think it's a good thing they are making this race for cheaper horses and running it under starter conditions," said Ritvo. "I'd probably have second thoughts experimenting like this with a stakes horses. But I think Automatic Weapon wants to go a mile and three-eighths, so it's worth taking a shot. I know a lot of the riders I have talked to are a little apprehensive about running this race, but hopefully everything will go off without a hitch."

The biggest problem regarding the wrong way race could come at the start since the race will begin with a walk up start, according to track superintendent Steve Cross.

"The race is going to start just east of the three-eighths pole, and we have no gap to get a gate on or off the course at that spot," Cross said.

Revved Up heads Umphrey cast

The highlight of Extreme Day will be the $250,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Marathon Handicap, to be run at two miles on the grass. The race is named in memory of Calder's former racing secretary, who died in January.

Revved Up, who has 7 victories and 3 seconds from his last 10 starts, was assigned high weight of 120 pounds. Other notables include Hotstufanthensome (118), Ramazutti (117), One Off (116), Runaway Dancer (116), and Gigli (115). The local contingent is led by Magic Mecke (115) and India Halo (111), one of two mares nominated for the race along with Potra Clasica.

India Halo, 6, beat the boys in winning the 1 1/2-mile Arthur L. Stakes on July 1 in her final prep for the Bob Umphrey. She is trained by Ritvo, one of Umphrey's best friends.

"It would be the thrill of my life if I could win this race, since Bob and

I were so close," said Ritvo. "I'm from the new school, I guess, and don't like running fillies against colts, but the old-timers used to do it all the time, and they still do it over in Europe. Besides she's already proven she can compete with the boys. Not only did she win the Arthur L. she was also second in the Gallant Fox at Aqueduct last year."

Sunday's best

Three first-level allowance races share top billing on Sunday's card, including two scheduled for the turf. Fastsweettowngirl looks like the horse to beat in the second race if it stays on the grass, while Causeway to Heaven, Pikito, Melissa's Prayer, and Indyan Lisa are the main contenders in the sixth race.

Old Town Pond and the speedy Ready More figure to vie for favoritism when they stretch out to a mile in the seventh race.

* Live racing switches to a three-day a week schedule this week, with the track open for simulcasting only Monday through Thursday until the week of Aug. 28. Entries will be taken on Sunday for all Friday cards, Mondays for Saturdays, and Tuesdays for Sundays in that period.