01/14/2004 12:00AM

Cat's Glow tries 'logical spot'

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It's all about the grass. While racetracks in more wintry climates are still several frigid months from hosting turf racing again, Gulfstream Park on Friday will flaunt its tropical allure by carding its two best races on grass.

The slightly richer of the pair, the eighth race, could have Cat's Glow as a deserving favorite, while the supporting feature, the sixth, appears to be a more a wide-open affair, in which more than half the field appears capable of winning.

, a 5-year-old mare owned by Bert, Elaine, and Richard Klein, has spent most of her 13-race career on grass, but trainer Steve Flint decided last fall to give her a chance on dirt. After a solid effort at Keeneland and a less encouraging one at Churchill Downs, it was back to the grass when Flint migrated to south Florida for the winter. Cat's Glow finished third and earned one of the highest Beyer Speed Figures of her career, a 90, in an overnight stakes Dec. 14 at Calder.

"I just wanted to shake her up a little bit" by placing her on dirt, said Flint. "I think it worked. The filly that barely beat us for second at Calder [Madeira Mist] came back and ran a close third in the [Grade 3] Honey Fox, so you have to like that."

By reverting back for the third-level allowance conditions of the Friday feature, a $38,000 race at about 1 1/8 miles, Cat's Glow "is in the logical spot," said Flint. "Hopefully, it's the right spot, too."

Jerry Bailey has been named to ride Cat's Glow, who drew post 2 in a field of 14 fillies and mares that will be limited to 10.

In the sixth, a $36,000, second-level allowance for older horses at about 1 1/8 miles, there does not appear to be an obvious selection, although a very intriguing entry is Popular Groom, one of two uncoupled starters for trainer Bill Mott.

It was nearly a year ago that Popular Groom earned a berth in the Tampa Bay Derby and Aventura Stakes by winning an allowance race on the Gulfstream dirt, but the colt ran poorly in both of those stakes and has not raced since. His Friday return marks his turf debut.

Other contenders in the sixth include Mott's other starter, Summer Slew, along with L'Oiseau d'Argent, Balin's Sword, and Camp David.

First post Friday is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.