11/05/2001 12:00AM

Youngsters out to demonstrate their versatility


MIAMI - Stakes-winning juveniles like Ms Brookski, Carey's Gold, Juggernaut, and O'Rocky have already proven their ability on the main track. Now they will all try to show their mettle on turf as well, as they top the fields for Saturday's $60,000 Lulu's Ransom and Fabulous Frolic stakes at Calder.

Ms Brookski, winner of the Brave Raj Stakes and runner-up to Blissful Kiss in the $400,000 My Dear Girl, figures to be the solid choice in the Lulu's Ransom. This is especially true after she turned in a sharp five-furlong work in 1:02.20 around the dogs over the turf course last Monday.

Carey's Gold and O'Rocky were the local stars in this year's open division of the Florida Stallion Series before proving no match for Delaware Park invader Booklet in the finale, the $400,000 In Reality Stakes. Juggernaut was not eligible for the stallion series but was dominant winning the Foolish Pleasure Stakes here on Sept. 22.

Mountain Forum, a troubled sixth in the In Reality, may be the sleeper in the one-mile Fabulous Frolic. Trainer Ron Spatz has said all along his colt figures to have a brighter future on grass than on dirt, and like Ms Brookski has already worked well over the local course.

Attendance and handle up

The 119-day 2001 Calder meet that ended Saturday showed gains in both ontrack attendance and average daily handle. Average on track attendance was up 2.5 percent over 2000 while ontrack handle increased 5 percent over the previous season.

"We're very pleased," said track president Ken Dunn. "To have increases in ontrack attendance and average handle over the course of a five-month meet is quite a statement.

"We were able to generate a great deal of enthusiasm early in the summer with the Summit of Speed, while good racing and special events including the Festival of the Sun, sustained that momentum throughout the remainder of the meet."

The average daily purse distribution of $203,000 was the highest in the track's 31-year history.

Slater dead at 90

Florida racing lost a good friend Saturday with the death of longtime handicapper Bob Slater. He was 90.

Despite infirmities that included a broken hip, Slater remained a press box regular until last month, and his daily selections in the Miami Herald appeared up until the day of his death. He had been a public handicapper since 1928, when he began his career as turf writer and handicapper for the Cincinnati Times-Star.

Slater galloped horses for Audley Farm in the early 1920's and also worked for Daily Racing Form and the Chicago Turf Bulletin before creating and owning the Hollywood Herald in the early 1960's. That paper that was the precursor to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He served as publicity director for the old Green Mountain Park and served as president of the Florida Turfwriters Association for 17 years.

"He was not only a great handicapper, but also a great newspaper man," said Joe Tanenbaum, Gulfstream Park's director of communications, who worked with Slater for more than 30 years. "His wife of 60 years, Mary, who passed away in 1997, was the love of his life. Horse racing was his second love."