07/24/2001 11:00PM

Assault on Spa set to go


MIAMI - The Calder invasion of Saratoga will start in earnest on Monday when trainers Marty Wolfson and Eddie Plesa Jr. send out their top 3-year-old fillies, O K to Dance and Sara's Success, in the $100,000 Lake George Stakes, a Grade 3.

Wolfson is less concerned about the competition than he is the activity in the Saratoga paddock for O K to Dance, who finished a disappointing seventh in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park earlier this month after losing her cool in the saddling enclosure.

"She just left her race in the paddock in California," explained Wolfson. "She's always been a high-strung filly, and to help her relax we'd been sending a pony to accompany her to the paddock before all her races, except at Hollywood where the stewards refused our request for a pony. And as a result she really became unnerved."

O K to Dance appeared to be making her customary late charge after fanning extremely wide into the stretch for the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup, but she was unable to sustain the rally as she had in her previous several starts.

"I don't foresee the same problem occurring at Saratoga," said Wolfson. "In addition, she'll be stabled in the same barn I always use up there, which is away from all the excitement and should help her stay calm up to the race."

Edgar Prado will be aboard O K to Dance, who has already won a pair of stakes, including Keeneland's Palisades, during the opening half of her 3-year-old campaign.

Sara's Success will carry a three-race winning streak into the Lake George. A daughter of Concorde's Tune, she proved her versatility when she overcame an eventful start and traffic woes on the far turn to win the Iowa Stakes here at Calder two weeks ago. The race was originally scheduled for the grass but ultimately decided over a "good" main track. Sara's Success had won her previous two starts on turf.

"She is a filly on the upswing," said Plesa. "I was very pleased with her last race, because she won despite trouble and despite the fact she's definitely a much better horse on turf than dirt. And also because she was just purchased privately, so it was great to have her win a stakes in her first start for the new owners."

Rene Douglas will fly in from Chicago, where he is currently riding on a regular basis at Arlington Park, to take the mount on Sara's Success in the Lake George.

Plesa will maintain a small stable of horses at Saratoga over the next six weeks, as will Calder regulars Mohammed Moubarak and Tim Ritvo.

Monarch scores three times

Frank Bertolino's Monarch Stable, which already held a commanding advantage in defense of its leading owner's title, pulled off an unusual hat trick on Monday with three winners sent out by different trainers.

Trainer Jim Hatchett saddled Twotimes Terlingua to victory for Monarch as the favorite in the opener, Ritvo sent out first-time starter Forever Ready to complete the early daily double, and Larry Pilotti completed the three-bagger when Noble Invitation dropped into the selling ranks to win the nightcap.

Noble Invitation also gave Pilotti a training double on the card. Earlier in the day, he watched No Mystery Here win at first asking, doing so despite switching leads on a couple of occasions while racing greenly through the stretch. A 2-year-old filly, Noble Invitation is a daughter of Mystery Storm and the first winner produced by her dam, Princess Glorious. She is owned by Ocala Oaks and Don R. Graham but unfortunately is not eligible for the Florida Stallion Series.

Castlebrook guts one out

Castlebrook left little doubt who is queen of the filly and mare handicap division following her game win in Sunday's Mia's Hope Handicap. A daughter of Mont-brook, she got the decision despite being shuffled back along the inside approaching the far turn. She gathered herself up to launch a second run that carried her to the lead in early stretch, then withstood the closing surge of Coolbythepool.

Castlebrook had rallied from further back to win the Miss Jealski Handicap in her previous start for owners Herb and Ione Elkins and trainer Bill Kaplan. Rosemary Homeister Jr. was again aboard the 4-year-old in the Mia's Hope.

Castlebrook's performance was a measure of consolation for Kaplan, who suffered a tough setback the previous afternoon when Mr. Livingston was outgamed in late stretch by Out of Champagne in the second division of the Carterista Handicap.