01/08/2004 12:00AM

Atti Girl Fergie gets stakes test


OLDSMAR, Fla. - No fewer than eight of the 14 horses entered in Saturday's $60,000 Sandpiper Stakes come into the race off a win. But Atti Girl Fergie, a hard-luck second in her most recent start, may have a lot to say about the outcome of the six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. According to trainer Kathleen O'Connell, Atti Girl Fergie could well be going after her third straight win on Saturday were it not for some bad racing luck.

Atti Girl Fergie, by Atticus and out of an Unbridled mare, won at Calder in her debut, and finished second in her other start, a seven-furlong allowance sprint, also at Calder.

"She was going to the leaders very easily in her last start when the horse inside her bolted and carried her out past the middle of the track," O'Connell said. "It really cost her some momentum, and even though she got her head in front, the other filly got through on the rail and was able to outnod her at the wire. I've liked this filly ever since we got her, and both her breeding and her running style suggests she's going to get even better the longer we run her. It's always tough trying stakes company for the first time, but I'm cautiously optimistic she'll give a good account Saturday."

Russell Woolsey rides Atti Girl Fergie at 116 pounds.

Gerald Bennett, who is off to another fast start this meeting, sends out the only two stakes winners in the field. Zosia's Genius won stakes over Michigan-bred rivals at Great Lakes Downs and has won three of four lifetime starts. Gold Ginny has won two of three outings, including the Michigan Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Great Lakes Downs.

T.D. Houghton, who has been showing little effects from the 14 months he was away from racing due to a concussion, rides Zosia's Genius at 122 pounds, while the meeting's leading rider, Joe Judice, is named on Gold Ginny, also at 122.

Pop Pop's Hope, winner of his last two, including the head decision over Atti Girl Fergie, turns back from seven furlongs to six furlongs. Jesus Castanon rides. Finnerty's Frolic, stakes placed in Canada, and Crafty Tears and Wild Speed, both sharp winners over the track last out, also are contenders.

Federico Mata will ride Crafty Tears, who won a five-furlong maiden race in a very fast 58.97 seconds, while Derek Bell returns on Wild Speed, who overcame a slow start to win an allowance race here.