01/16/2003 1:00AM

Case made for Golden Marlin in Trophy


Trainer Greg Foley has, in Champali, possibly the best 3-year-old colt based in Kentucky this winter. Foley also has a nice 3-year-old filly named Golden Marlin, who seeks to become the pro tem leader of her division in the $50,000 Cincinnati Trophy at Turfway Park on Saturday. A field of nine is entered for the 6 1/2-furlong stakes.

Golden Marlin hasn't run a bad race in three starts. A winner at first asking at Churchill last November, Golden Marlin returned 12 days later and finished third behind Lady Tak and Perfect Story in an entry-level allowance. Both of those fillies have done well since. Lady Tak recently won the Thelma Stakes at Fair Grounds in a romp, while Perfect Story, a half-sister to Point Given, won an allowance at Gulfstream Park on its opening weekend.

Golden Marlin made her stakes debut last month in the Gowell Stakes at Turfway. Breaking from post 10 and forced to make an eight-wide rally in muddy conditions, Golden Marlin ran an outstanding race to be beaten only a half-length by Wildcat Annie, who also returns for Saturday's race. The extra sixteenth of a mile and a ground-saving trip may allow Golden Marlin to turn the tables.

Wildcat Annie, who has been beaten to the first call only once in her career, is the likely pacesetter. Two of her three victories have been in the mud, which usually favors front-runners, and she was tiring noticeably in the final yards of the Gowell. Though the extra distance of the Cincinnati Trophy works to Golden Marlin's advantage, Wildcat Annie may still have enough in reserve if she receives little or no early pressure.

Miss Marry Apples, who placed in the Grade 2 Schuylerville at Saratoga last summer, makes her 3-year-old debut in Saturday's race. Though winless since her debut at Keeneland last April, Miss Mary Apples has rarely ducked a tough fight. Following a downturn in form last summer, she has run third in her last two starts, the most recent being the Delta Princess Stakes at Delta Downs.

Pampered Princess won her maiden by more than three lengths at Turfway in late December, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 80. The daughter of Indian Charlie is cutting back from 1 1/16 miles, and it would be no surprise if Saturday's race served as a useful prep for two-turn stakes later in the meet.

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