08/21/2004 12:00AM

Calder: Teak Totem steals race

Jim Lisa
Teak Totem goes wire to wire in the $100,000 Aspidistra Handicap at Calder on Saturday.

MIAMI - Teak Totem, making only her second start in a year, got away with a slow pace and made her seven rivals pay when she drew off to a surprisingly easy three-length victory in the $100,000 Aspidistra Handicap at Calder.

Teak Totem ($27.20), a 4-year-old daughter of Northern Afleet, set fractions of 24.33 seconds, 49.43, and 1:13.53 under jockey Eduardo Nunez. She entered the stretch a half-length in front of Arab Miss, then quickly pulled away when put to pressure and was not threatened in the final furlong. Iowa's Image circled rivals into the stretch after lagging at the back of the pack and finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Harts Gap.

Both Formal Miss, the 9-5 favorite, and All the Honor, the 2-1 second choice and 120-pound starting highweight, raced within easy striking distance but dropped back under pressure through the stretch.

Teak Totem completed one mile in 1:37.70 over the firm course.

"Her last race was a prep that she needed after the long layoff," said James Hatchett, who trains Teak Totem. "It was fine they gave us that kind of pace. She's a half-sister to Wooden Phone, who won the Strub Stakes after we sold her to Bob Baffert. This filly can go both ways, turf or dirt, so we'll consider the options."