02/09/2006 12:00AM

Celestial Legend preps for big time

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
If Celestial Legend runs well Saturday, she could be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks.

Unbeaten 3-year-old filly Celestial Legend, racing beyond seven furlongs for the first time, will be challenged by impressive maiden winner For Kisses in Saturday's $75,000 Wide Country Stakes at Laurel Park.

The one-turn, one-mile race drew a field of nine 3-year-old fillies.

Aside from her career debut at Delaware Park, where she got up by a nose at 17-1, hasn't had a close call in five races, three of them stakes.

Trainer Dale Capuano said he hopes to use the Wide Country as a stepping-stone to bigger races. The possibilities include the Kentucky Oaks, where Celestial Legend was 38-1 in Pool 1 of the future wagering offered by Churchill Downs.

"If she gets the mile the way I think she can, we'll stretch her out to two turns in her next start," Capuano said. "I was a little surprised to see her featured in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager since she hasn't run long yet. But if she does handle Saturday's race and then shows she can go two turns, we'd consider the Kentucky Oaks or Black-Eyed Susan as possible goals."

owns one advantage over Celestial Legend, the 4-5 favorite on the track's morning line. She has already proven her ability to win at one mile. In her second career start, For Kisses drew off to a 12 3/4-length victory in a field of straight maidens. Her 88 Beyer Speed Figure matches the number Celestial Legend earned in her victory going seven furlongs in the Toddler Stakes on Nov. 26.

finished three lengths behind Celestial Legend as the runner-up in the Toddler. That's the only time Sea Pines has lost in her last four starts. She stretches out from six furlongs to a mile in the second start of her form cycle following a 5 1/4-length win against high-priced optional claimers.

Keep on Talking is 2 for 3 at a mile and has never been worse than third in six starts on the main track. She adds blinkers after finishing third behind Sea Pines while sprinting last time out.