12/23/2003 12:00AM

The best La Prevoyante yet


MIAMI - The La Prevoyante Handicap has attracted more than its share of top-class filly and mare long-distance turf specialists to Calder over the years. Enough stars, in fact, to earn the race Grade 2 status. But none of the previous 28 runnings of the 1 1/2-mile La Prevoyante has drawn a field as deep, talented, and wide open as the group that runs on Saturday's Grand Slam II card.

New Economy, winner of the 2002 La Prevoyante, is back to defend her title but figures to be no better than fourth or fifth choice in the wagering in a field that includes Spice Island, Volga, Sixty Seconds, Mariensky, and California invaders Lady Annaliese and Go on Baby.

"Obviously, this is a very competitive field," said Graham Motion, New Economy's trainer. "Both Volga and Spice Island are in fantastic form and there are several other fillies in here who are very good.

"My filly has had a lot of problems and goes through phases but is doing very well now, and Rosemary [Homeister Jr.] rides her with a lot of confidence. I am concerned about the competition and the fact she comes back in three weeks off such a big race."

Motion was referring to New Economy's half-length victory in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap here earlier this month.

Spice Island is in rare form, having won her last three starts, including the Grade 2 Long Island Handicap in which she outfinished Volga by 1 1/4 lengths. She has won both of her starts at the 1 1/2-mile distance of the La Prevoyante.

Volga is also in peak form. She added the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine on Oct. 19 to an earlier victory in the Grade 3 Matchmaker Handicap and surpassed the $1 million mark in career earnings with her second-place finish in the Long Island.

Mariensky and Sixty Seconds will race uncoupled in the wagering for trainer Christophe Clement.

Mariensky finished fourth in the Long Island and appears to be rounding back to the form that led to three straight victories earlier this year, including the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay and Grade 3 Just a Game handicaps at Belmont.

Sixty Seconds has won both her U.S. starts, including the Grade 3 Glens Falls Handicap and is a "pure stayer," according to Clement.

Lady Annaliese won Hollywood Park's Hermosa Beach Handicap on Dec. 6. She will make her first start against graded stakes company since coming to trainer Bobby Frankel during the fall.

Go on Baby, another horse who is making her first start in a graded stakes, finished second in the Hermosa Beach and figures to control the pace.