Judith Brodkin's 5-year-old High Ideal made a furious deep-stretch bid to catch favored Best Of The Rest in last year's $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap (gr. III) at Calder, but his rally fell a half-length short.With Best Of The Rest forced to sit out Monday's renewal of the 1 1/16-mile holiday feature, High Ideal could inherit the favorite's role with jockey Jesus Castanon aboard for trainer Marty Wolfson in a field of seven older horses.A 5-year-old Skywalker gelding, High Ideal tailed off late last year and got the winter off after finishing eighth in the Fred Hooper Handicap (gr. III) in late December. Wolfson brought him back in an optional test on May 3 at one mile and he romped home a 4½ lengths winner over several of his rivals Monday. The wild card in the race will be Teresa and David Palmer's 6-year-old Mr. Livingston with leading rider Manoel Cruz aboard. Trained by Bill Kaplan, the roan/gray son of El Prado won the Blazing Sword overnight stakes here on turf last out on April 25.The twist is that Mr. Livingston hasn't run in a main track race since the summer of 2001 while establishing himself as a graded stakes performer on grass during a career that has yielded over $370,000 in earnings. Mr. Livingston has made eight of his 30 career starts on dirt with only one win, but also finished second in two stakes and third in another. His last try on dirt came in the Carterista Handicap here on July 21, 2001, finishing second.Shipping in from Ocala for Monday's race is Kenneth E. Hoffman's Parrott Bay, with Rosemary Homeister, Jr. getting the call. Trained by the owner, the 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy finished a close-up third last out invading Hawthorne Park for the National Jockey Club (gr. III). He was beaten only a neck for it all in the April 19 race.Never to be counted out in main track stakes at Calder is Newcomb Green's venerable 8-year-old gelding Dancing Guy with Roger I. Velez. Also trained by his owner, Dancing Guy has been a fixture in the South Florida handicap division for several years, earning nearly $800,00 from 78 career starts.
One of his 18 career victories came in the 2000 renewal of the Memorial Day Handicap. His recent form has not been very encouraging, notably a dull fourth-place finish behind High Ideal in the local prep. The roan/gray's best chance is for a fast pace up front to complement his stretch-running style.$100,000 Memorial Day Handicap (gr. III), 3 & up, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Wgt., Rider
1. High Ideal (NJ), 113, Jesus Lopez Castanon
2. Shotgun Fire (FL), 110, Julio A. Garcia
3. Lavender's Lad (FL), 113, Paul R. Toscano
4. Parrott Bay (KY), 114, Rosemary B. Homeister, Jr.
5. Mr. Livingston (KY), 113, Manoel R. Cruz
6. Dancing Guy (FL), 113, Roger I. Velez
7. Sebastian Light (FL), 112, Manuel Aguilar