07/21/2004 12:00AM

Beware of babies off one big effort


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There's an old racetrack adage that 2-year-olds are the most honest racehorses, because they have yet to learn how to cheat. Two-year-olds may be as honest as they come, but there are times when they are consistently inconsistent.

Several of the more impressive debuting 2-year-olds at the current Woodbine meeting came back to bomb in their next start, usually at low odds.

Sweet Solairo was a prime example. She showed big speed in her first start, going 4 1/2 furlongs May 22, before finishing a length back of South Bay Cove in second, earning a lofty 84 Beyer Figure in the process.

Sweet Solairo was the even-money favorite three weeks later, in a five-furlong maiden special, but could only manage fourth after never being in contention. She bounced back with a closing second-place finish in the July 4 My Dear Stakes, although her Beyer for that race was just a 68.

South Bay Cove was awarded an impressive 87 Beyer when she defeated Sweet Solairo in her first start. Not surprisingly, she was made the 1-2 favorite in the five-furlong My Dear, but finished a fading fifth after being interfered with at the sixteenth pole. She was promoted to fourth by disqualification, but even with a clean trip, she wouldn't have been any better than second, and certainly didn't come close to duplicating her powerful debut.

Flat Rock was the latest 2-year-old to bounce to the moon. A son of Queen's Plate winner Archers Bay, Flat Rock ran strongly on the front end when he debuted in a five-furlong maiden special June 27, winning by five lengths, in a time that earned him a 74 Beyer.

Flat Rock was bet down to 2-5 when he reappeared last Sunday in the 5 1/2--furlong Clarendon Stakes. After dueling on the lead through slow fractions, he folded in the stretch, and finished nearly eight lengths back to trail the four-horse field of Canadian-breds.

Trainer Dave Cotey, who won the Clarendon with a maiden, Moonshine Justice, said many young horses on the Woodbine backstretch have been prone to illness this year, sometimes without exhibiting any obvious symptoms.

"Some horses have had a really high white [blood] count, and you don't even know that they're [harboring] a virus," Cotey said. "You think they're 100 percent fine - they don't have a snotty nose, they're eating up, they're squealing, and they're galloping great, and you only find out that they're sick when you take a blood on them."

South Bay Cove should be the favorite again Saturday in the $150,000-added Shady Well Stakes, which figures to attract a solid field. She will be a formidable opponent if she comes close to firing her best shot, but it's anybody's guess as to which version of South Bay Cove will show up.

Time Saver, who is also slated to run in the Shady Well, came down with a virus after she was entered in the My Dear, and was scratched by trainer Gail Casselman. She received a 71 Beyer for her 4 1/2-length maiden triumph on June 6 in her only start.

Other prospects for the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well are Ring City and Dancehall Deelites.

Ring City is one of two recent debut winners at Woodbine by speed sire Carson City. She only got a 60 Beyer when she won a five-furlong maiden special July 6, but looked good doing it, coming through traffic from off the pace to prevail by three-quarters of a length over Dancehall Deelites. Dancehall Deelites rallied wide that day, in what was her first start, and galloped out strongly after the wire.

The Shady Well could be an ideal spot for an up-and-comer, rather than a filly who has already run lights-out in the afternoon.