08/16/2005 11:00PM

American Miss now the favorite

Jim Lisa
American Miss, winning the Nancy's Glitter, is the one to beat on Friday.

MIAMI - Pampered Princess is the undisputed leader of the local filly and mare handicap division despite her recent loss to American Miss in the Nancy's Glitter Handicap. But with Pampered Princess off to Kentucky this weekend for Ellis Park's Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes, American Miss becomes the one to beat in Friday's $40,000 Sambacarioca Stakes.

American Miss has improved dramatically for former jockey and now trainer Cecil Paul over the past several months, winning a third-level optional claiming and allowance race in the slop by nine lengths on June 28 and then returning to turn in a shocking 1 1/2-length upset against the 1-10 Pampered Princess in the Nancy's Glitter.

"American Miss was always kind of a nervous horse, but she's begun to settle down a little as she's gotten older and matured," said Paul, who rode for 35 years before taking out his trainer's license several years ago. "Not that she's perfect by any means. I still have to saddle her outside the paddock, and because she's so nervous I don't want to take any chances shipping her out of town."

Paul trains American Miss for his son, Dr. D.K. Paul, and his partner, Dr. J.C. Benjamin, both of whom are surgeons in Vero Beach.

"Right now I have five horses in training, all for my son, including a couple of 2-year-olds we bought at the Ocala sale and the allowance mare Honeymooner."

American Miss again will likely need to be caught in the Sambacarioca. Her chief competition might come from Shady Woman and Lauraelises Sister.

Paul also nominated American Miss for the $100,000 Aspidistra Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile on the turf on Aug. 27. The race drew 17 nominations, including Grade 2 winner D'Wildcat Speed from the barn of trainer Bill White.

D'Wildcat Speed has not started since winning Gulfstream's Grade 2 Rampart Handicap on March 26. She was scheduled to run in the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, but was withdrawn from consideration after coming back less than 100 percent from her final workout for the race.

D'Wildcat Speed has never run on the turf. She has been working well for her return, including five furlongs in 1:01.60 and then six furlongs in 1:14 over a cuppy track here Tuesday.

Among other prominent nominees to the Aspidistra are turf stakes winners Chancey Light, R Obsession, Ragtime Hope, Statue, and You Glitter Girl.

Gomez excited about In Summation

Trainer Frank Gomez is rarely prone to showing much emotion when it comes to any of his horses, but one could not blame the veteran horseman for being just a bit excited over the latest performance by undefeated 2-year-old In Summation in Saturday's $75,000 Dr. Fager Stakes.

In Summation thoroughly dominated his six rivals in the opening leg of the Florida Stallion Stakes, splashing over a sloppy track to his fourth consecutive victory. Three of those wins have been one-sided affairs, and that practically ensures another small field for the middle leg of the series, the $125,000 Affirmed Stakes, on Sept. 3.

"I was pretty sure he'd win on Saturday," said Gomez, who has developed such outstanding 2-year-olds as Smile, Princess Rooney, and Cherokee Run during his 33-year tenure at Calder. "He wasn't 100 percent fit for his last race, and he certainly doesn't seem to mind the mud. Hopefully, the way he's been winning will scare off anybody who might be thinking of shipping a horse down for the next race of the series, although that probably won't be the case with a $400,000 purse in the last one."

Gomez was referring to the 1 1/16- mile In Reality Stakes on Oct. 15.

In Summation came out of the six-furlong Dr. Fager in good order, Gomez said, and he is looking forward to stretching him out an additional eighth of a mile in the Affirmed.

"He's been winning so easy I think he'll go farther," said Gomez. "And he proved he could rate in his previous start, not that anybody has more speed than he does."

Gomez is the only trainer to have swept the Stallion Stakes twice, with Smile and Naked Greed. He remains reluctant, however, to make comparisons between In Summation and any of the good 2-year-olds he has developed in the past.

"Obviously, he's done nothing wrong to this point," said Gomez. "I couldn't have asked for any more than he's done so far. But it's still too early to try to compare him to any of my other horses.

"Naturally, I'd love to be able to sweep the series again. It's been a long time since I've even had a horse good enough to compete in the Stallion Stakes. But then, that's the nature of this business. Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait your turn."

B. B. Best returns Sunday

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said earlier this week that the Grade 1-placed 3-year-old B. B. Best is close to making a return. Turns out it's very close. B. B. Best will make his first start in nearly four months on Sunday, in the $40,000 American Dreamer Stakes at a mile.

B. B. Best, who finished third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth earlier this season, will be in a field that also includes stakes winners Cin Cin, Dazzling Dr. Cevin, Hal's Image, and Sir Jackie.