06/24/2003 11:00PM

Analyzing juvenile stakes by pedigree

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LAS VEGAS - While the Mother Goose Stakes is Belmont Park's centerpiece this weekend, the Tremont Stakes on Saturday for 2-year-old colts, and Astoria Stakes on Sunday for 2-year-old fillies feature precocious juveniles who promise to put on quite a show.

The Grade 3 Tremont is one of the oldest stakes for 2-year-olds. First run in 1887, many winners of the Tremont went on to become 2-year-old champions, including Hail to Reason (1960), Bold Lad (1964), Buckpasser (1965), Successor (1966), and Foolish Pleasure (1974). Other notable winners were Bold Forbes (1975), Alydar (1977), Gulch (1986), Hansel (1990), Salt Lake (1991), More Than Ready (1999), and City Zip (2000).

The Astoria Stakes is currently ungraded, but it too has had a rich history, beginning with its first running, won by Astarita, back in 1902. Prominent winners of the Astoria include First Flight (1946), Leallah (1956), Affectionately (1962), Queen Empress (1964), Native Street (1965), Queen of the Stage (1967), Ruffian (1974), Dearly Precious (1975), Twilight Ridge (1984), Finder's Fee (1999), and Raging Fever (2000).

The Tremont field is loaded with speed, and all of the prospective candidates come from families of unusually high quality.

Limehouse: Bred top (Grand Slam) and bottom (Dixieland Band) for speed, Limehouse followed a maiden win with a victory in the Three Chimneys Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day. His second dam is Sorority Stakes winner Blue Jean Baby (Mr. Prospector) and his third dam is multiple stakes winner Jones Time Machine.

Hasslefree: By freshman sire Forestry, Hasslefree, who was second in the Grade 3 Flash Stakes, is a half-brother to stakes winner Strolling Belle. His second dam, the stakes-winning La Polonaise, is a half-sister to Alabama Stakes winner Prismatical. Multiple generations of Hasslefree's female family have produced stakes winners, and his fourth dam, Madamoiselle W., is a half-sister to Top Knight, the 1968 2-year-old champion.

Adage: Adage is by Tale of the Cat, a prodigious freshman sire last year who had more 2-year-old winners than any other 2002 first-crop sire, including Distorted Humor, Elusive Quality, and Awesome Again. Adage's dam, Firey Affair (Explodent) is a half-sister to Harlan, the late sire of Menifee. Clearly, this is a pedigree full of speed and class.

Best to Be King: Speaking of Menifee, Best to Be King is from the first crop of the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes runner-up. From the Storm Cat sire line, Menifee's runners should have speed on all surfaces and are likely to stretch out to middle distances if they are out of mares by stamina influences. Best to Be King is out of a Rahy mare who is a half-sister to Irgun, winner of the Wood Memorial and Gotham Stakes.

Pretty Wild Again: By Wild Again out of Alabama Stakes winner Pretty Discreet (Private Account), Pretty Wild Again won his maiden debut at Belmont by 7 1/4 lengths and looked as impressive as his full brother, Pretty Wild, who last year finished second in both the Hopeful and Futurity stakes. His second dam is a full sister to Kentucky Oaks winner Buryyourbelief (Believe It).

Wild Wildcat: By speed influence Forest Wildcat, Wild Wildcat is out of a mare by another speed influence, the late Pentelicus (Fappiano). Pentelicus was a half-brother to Gana Facil, the dam of Unbridled.

New York-bred Rodeo Licious, shooting for her third straight victory in the Astoria after winning her maiden debut and the Grade 3 Fashion Stakes, and Bikini Wiggle, third in the Fashion Stakes, headline a small but competitive field, most of whom are impressive maiden winners who appear capable of an upset including:

Unbridled Beauty: With Unbridled's Song on top and Mt. Livermore on the bottom, Unbridled Beauty is bred to excel sprinting at 2, and showed high speed in her winning debut. Add in the high class of her female family and Unbridled Beauty has the tools to be a terror at 2. Her dam, Dreamscape, is a full sister to champion sprinter Housebuster and a half-sister to recent Honeymoon Breeders' Cup winner Quero Quero.

Stoic: Another runner by Forestry, Stoic's second dam is a half-sister to Boundary, a Grade 1 winner and speed influence. More importantly, Stoic is a Rasmussen Factor (inbred to an influential female within five generations through different individuals), as the superior producer Sequence is found in the fifth generation of both Forestry and her dam, Brink. Forestry traces in direct tail-female line (dam, dam's dam, etc.) to Sequence, who produced Gold Digger, the dam of Mr. Prospector. Stoic's dam is by Forty Niner, a son of Mr. Prospector.

Dixie Waltz: Dixie Waltz won her career debut and is by the venerable Northern Dancer stallion Dixieland Band, now 23. Her third dam, Bald Facts, is out of the foundation mare Too Bald, and is a full sister to stakes winner American Standard, and a half-sister to stakes winners Capote, Exceller, Baldski, and Vaguely Hidden.

Feline Story: Another fleet runner by Tale of the Cat, Feline Story gets additional speed from her damsire, Really Secret, an obscure stallion by In Reality. Feline Story is another Rasmussen Factor, as she is inbred 4x4 to the full brother/sister duo, Raise a Native and Toast of the Town.