09/17/2003 11:00PM

Brave Miss runs into two tough fillies in Oaks

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Brave Miss, who figures to be third choice in the British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks on Saturday, is a nice filly. Unfortunately for her connections, owner Leif Nordhal and trainer Barbara Heads, two of the best 3-year-old fillies seen in the Pacific Northwest for some time also came along this year. Youcan'ttakeme has dominated her opposition at Emerald Downs, and Dancewithavixen has been nothing less than spectacular at Hastings, winning six of the seven stake races for 3-year-old fillies there.

Brave Miss comes into the Oaks with solid credentials. She won the Irish Day Stakes at Emerald in June and finished third to Youcan'ttakeme in the Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks in her last start. She also has the respect of Tom Longstaff, who trains Dancewithavixen.

"Of course, I like my filly," he said. "But I'm more worried about Brave Miss than Raylene, who has to ship in from Alberta."

Brave Miss is stabled at Hastings, but she has done most of her running at Emerald this year. According to Heads, that was more by chance than design.

"She's not much of a sprinter, and the longer maiden races weren't filling up here in the spring," Heads said. "When the race came up at Emerald, we shipped her down there and she won."

Heads sent her back to run in the Irish Day Stakes, and she won right back.

"I knew that Grant Forster was giving Youcant'takeme a break, so I thought, 'Why not?' " she said. "She liked the surface down there, and I didn't see any need to run against Dancewithavixen here."

Heads was proud of Brave Miss in the Washington Oaks and thinks she's ready for a big effort Saturday.

"She made a big move and then kind of hung," Heads said of her Washington Oaks effort. "We found out later that she bled a little, but she never stopped trying."

Although Heads is looking forward to Saturday, she is still trying to get over the Jack Diamond Futurity, in which Joyride, who might have won with a clean trip, ended up ninth.

"I was so depressed after the race that I could have slit my wrists," she said. "I was never more confident going into a race, but, well, you saw what happened."

Joyride, who lagged behind a fast and contested pace early, was moving fastest of all in the middle of the stretch turn. But he had to check sharply and nearly lost his rider, Chris Loseth, when he ran into the heels of Caledonia Road, who was stopping badly after setting the early fractions.

"It was like he ran into a parked car," she said. "The good news is that surprisingly enough he came out of the race in good shape. We'll point him to the Ascot Graduation, but it would be nice to run him in a maiden race before then."

Raylene arrives

Oaks contender Raylene arrived from Alberta without incident, and according to her groom, Albert Labossiere, she is happily stabled in Frank Barroby's shed row.

"She seems as sharp as ever," Labossiere said Thursday morning. "I'll take her out for a walk when it settles down; otherwise she'll be too hard to handle."

Her trainer, Rodney Haynes, was scheduled to arrive later in the morning.

Kalfaari not a secret anymore

Horses shipping in from the prairies tend to be overlooked by the fans at Hastings. And while that's not likely to happen with a horse such as Raylene, who beat the boys in the Canadian Derby, it certainly happened with Kalfaari, who won the Hastings Speed on Sept. 6 and paid a generous $23.30 - not bad for a horse who had won eight of his previous nine races.

Kalfaari figures to be first or second choice in the supporting feature Saturday, the $40,000 Sir Winston Churchill.

"I'm not sure if he'll go a mile and an eighth," said Clint Willson, his trainer and owner. "He has a small breathing problem, but I think I have it under control now. He suits a mile and a sixteenth just fine, but we'll have to wait and see how he does Saturday."

Willson said Kalfaari won't be staying for an even longer race at Hastings, the 1 3/8-mile Premiers on Oct. 12.

Trainer Dino Condilenios was planning to run Lord Nelson in the Churchill, but because of a couple of minor setbacks, Lord Nelson will stay in the barn.

"He hurt himself in his stall, and he also had some mucus in his throat," Condilenios said. "Neither of them are that big of a deal, so we're still aiming for the Premiers."