02/19/2003 1:00AM

Calder gang ready to strike again


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In years past, horses based at Calder Race Course always won more than their fair share of races when they traveled across town to compete at Gulfstream Park.

The majority of that success, though, traditionally came in claiming and low- to middle-class allowance races.

But this winter, when the big money has been on the line, Calder horses have risen to the occasion.

Calder-based runners have already won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic (Best of the Rest), the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth (Trust N Luck), and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf (Stay Forever). On Sunday, connections of Calder shippers Ivanavinalot and Cellars Shiraz hope to add those names to the list when the horses start in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes and $75,000 Georgia Stakes.

Ivanavinalot was the dominant 2-year-old filly based in south Florida in 2002 and this year proved she could also hold her own out of state. She launched her 3-year-old campaign with a second-place finish behind the more seasoned Atlantic Ocean in the Sunshine Millions Oaks at Santa Anita.

"I knew she was going into that race a little short, and she hated the track out there, so all in all I thought she ran a terrific race," said Kathleen O'Connell, who trains Ivanavinalot for owner-breeder Gil Campbell. "She's doing super going into the Davona Dale, so I'm expecting a good happening this weekend."

Ivanavinalot has been working exceptionally well at her Calder base since the Sunshine Millions Oaks, and O'Connell has resisted the temptation to ship the filly to Gulfstream to get a feel for the track before the Davona Dale.

"I know the track is hard over there, and I saw no need to bring her over and beat her up before the race," said O'Connell.

The trainer said she is also sticking with Ivanavinalot's regular rider, M.R. Cruz, on Sunday instead of making a change for the Davona Dale.

There will certainly be plenty of big-name riders available for the Davona Dale, with only four starters confirmed as of Thursday. Along with Ivanavinalot, the starters are My Boston Gal, Perfect Story, and Yell.

Trainer Bill Cesare has also confirmed Cellars Shiraz as a starter in the Georgia Stakes, a restricted race in which she is likely to be the heavy favorite. Cellars Shiraz completed a one-two Calder exacta in the Sunshine Filly and Mare Turf, finishing a game second behind Stay Forever.

Cesare said he considered waiting for the Suwannee River Handicap on March 2, "but the conditions of this race sort of limits the competition, and it is the right spot for her.

"She ran really well in the Sunshine Millions. Stay Forever beat her fair and square."

The news that Cellars Shiraz would run in the Georgia Stakes did little to pick up the spirits of Malcolm Pierce, who is planning to send out Libretto in the race.

"We're on target for the Georgia Stakes, but that's bad news learning Cellars Shiraz is heading there too," Pierce said late Thursday morning. "But you never duck one horse in any stakes race."

Libretto finished fourth, less than a length behind Cellars Shiraz, in the Sunshine Millions Turf.

"I think a mile and one eighth might have been a little farther than she probably wants to run," said Pierce. He added that jockey Jorge Chavez "knows her a lot better now and should have her a lot closer to the pace on Sunday."

Another Calder-based nominee for the Georgia Stakes, Askforaraise, worked five furlongs in 1:02 over her home course on Wednesday. Askforaraise finished second and third behind Sweettrickydancer in the Hollywood Wildcat and Tropical Oaks and was also a troubled fourth making her local debut in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes earlier this month. She would be facing older horses for the first time if she does start in the Georgia Stakes.

Wolf thinking about Dubai World Cup

Jack Wolf, the owner of the Donn Handicap favorite, Harlan's Holiday, said he would strongly consider running his horse in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 29 should he run well in Saturday's Donn.

"It's something you have to look at, unless we're at war," Wolf said. "From an owner's standpoint, obviously, there's a chance you take when you go to Dubai. A lot of horses are never the same after they go there. I had a horse a couple of years ago, Thesaurus, who went over there and he was never the same.

"Is it worth the prestige and extra dough to go over there with the thought that it's going to take three months for the horse to get back to form?" Wolf continued.

"If we could win this race Saturday, it might be worth a gamble, and give him some time off when he comes back and point for the [Breeders' Cup] Classic."

Wolf said the ultimate decision regarding Dubai would be made by trainer Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher said he has kept Harlan's Holiday current on the proper vaccinations he would need to go to Dubai, but he wants to get through the Donn first.

"To me, he's the right kind of horse," for the Dubai trip, Pletcher said. "He doesn't need Lasix and he ships well. If it's a race we think we can do well in, we'll take a look at it."

Meanwhile, Wolf said that Bham, who finished third in the Holy Bull Stakes, will be sent to his racing manager Barry Berkelhammer's farm in Ocala later this week for about a month's vacation.

Bham developed a temperature while preparing for the Fountain of Youth and has been slow to come around. Bham is most likely off the Kentucky Derby trail, Wolf said.

Storm Flag Flying not being hurried

Storm Flag Flying, last year's 2-year-old filly champion, breezed an easy four furlongs in 50.40 seconds on Tuesday as she slowly gets ready for her seasonal debut. The work was a fifth of a second faster than last week, when she went a half in 50.60 seconds.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said he has been pleased with Storm Flag Flying's training and still lists the Forward Gal Stakes here on March 14 as a possible first objective.

"If she gets ready I'll run her, if she doesn't I won't," he said. "She's really doing well, though."

McGaughey will be represented by Yell in Sunday's Davona Dale Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Yell, a daughter of A.P. Indy, is 2 for 3, with her maiden win coming via a disqualification at Aqueduct in November. She shipped down here to win an entry-level allowance by a neck over Bird Town.

McGaughey said he initially planned to keep Yell in New York for the Busher Stakes, but decided to ship here down when he thought the Davona Dale might come up light.

"I thought this race might come up a little easier than it's going to," he said. "But I'll keep her down here and stay with the game plan.''

- additional reporting by David Grening