01/04/2002 1:00AM

Breeding, talent say it's Forest Heiress


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In 1988, trainer Ben Perkins Jr. had the dominant 3-year-old filly on the grounds with On to Royalty, who won four races at Gulfstream Park that year, including three graded stakes.

Fourteen years later, Perkins has another fast filly from the same family, Forest Heiress, who may have the ability to dominate the 3-year-old filly division this meet. Forest Heiress heads a seven-horse field entered for the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes Sunday.

A daughter of Forest Wildcat, Forest Heiress looks every bit an odds-on favorite in the six-furlong Old Hat. Forest Heiress has won four of five starts, including three graded stakes. No other member of the field has won a stakes.

Forest Heiress won the Colleen and Sorority stakes at Monmouth Park, and in her last start took the Grade 3 Valley Stream at Aqueduct, setting a stakes record of 1:08.66 for six furlongs. Better yet, she showed the ability to sit off the pace in the Valley Stream after having raced on the lead in her four previous outings.

"She's so smart; she's not speed crazy," said Ben Perkins Sr., father of and assistant to Ben Perkins Jr. "She rated beautiful last time. She did it real professional."

Forest Heiress has the bloodlines to win the Old Hat. Her second dam, Royal Ties, produced On to Royalty, who in 1988 won the Old Hat, Forward Gal, and Bonnie Miss here.

Jerry Bailey, who won two races here on opening day, will ride Forest Heiress from post 7 under co-high weight of 119 pounds.

The Old Hat marks the stakes debut of Take the Cake, a daughter of Fly So Free who hails from the same family of Grade 1 winner Pompeii. Take the Cake, trained by Carl Nafzger, has won both of her starts, overcoming slow starts from the rail in each race.

"She's got some talent," said Nafzger. "She's a good, honest, hard-trying filly, and that's the best I can say about her."

Nafzger added that he thought Take the Cake would be better at longer distances.

Tony D'Amico, aboard for both of Take the Cake's wins, rides from post 5 under 119 pounds.

A New Twist finished second to Forest Heiress in the Valley Stream after setting a fast pace after breaking from the rail. She figures to be on the pace again, and will be ridden by Edgar Prado from post 3.

Completing the field are Excellent Choice, How About It, French Satin, and Darby Haven.

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