02/10/2003 12:00AM

Beyond the Waves a conundrum


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Beyond the Waves has had a checkered career, with just two starts since October 2001. She also has made a habit of finishing second, placing six times in 18 races, all of which might scare bettors who must concede that, on form, Beyond the Waves is the horse to beat in Wednesday's featured ninth race at Gulfstream Park.

Beyond the Waves, trained by Jonathan Sheppard, returned from a six-month layoff on Jan. 11 to finish second in a second-level allowance with conditions similar to Wednesday's race. This time, however, she gets to stretch out to 1 3/8 miles on turf after prepping at 1 1/16 miles.

Thirteen older fillies and mares were entered in Wednesday's feature, but a maximum of 10 can run. Beyond the Waves benefits by breaking from post 2, a huge plus in a three-turn race.

The main rivals to Beyond the Waves are a pair of fillies coming off victories in first-level allowance races, and a South American import.

Everybottiwins and Miss Playbill both beat first-level allowance runners in their last starts. Everybottiwins also won at this 11-furlong distance, and she has improved markedly since trainer Tim Hills moved her to the turf, with three victories in five starts on grass.

Miss Playbill was victorious at Calder on Nov. 28. This will be her first attempt beyond 1 1/8 miles. She drew outside, in post 10. Trainer Bill Mott is reuniting Miss Playbill with his main man, Jerry Bailey, who is 1 for 2 on Miss Playbill.

Musetta, an import from Argentina who is making her North American debut, runs for the first time since December 2001. Her trainer, David Donk, on Monday morning said Musetta's progress was delayed last fall when she fell and cut herself, in what Donk described as "a freak accident at the barn.

"Otherwise, she would have been ready to race last fall," Donk said. "That's why it's taken awhile to get her to the races. But the extra time has done her well."

Musetta has won twice in seven starts, and finished fifth in a Group 1 race in her lone previous try on turf.

"She wants to run long," Donk said. "She doesn't have to win, but I think she'll run well. She's fit enough. The distance isn't going to be a problem."

Another horse worth consideration is When I Grow Up, whose closing kick was hampered by a painfully slow pace when she finished fourth in a similar second-level allowance race on Jan. 11.

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