12/06/2007 12:00AM

Cher Ami back on turf to tackle Northern troops

EmailMIAMI - The $100,000 Cherokee Frolic and Kris S. stakes, originally scheduled for Saturday at Calder, were both canceled last month as part of a purse-saving measure. But Saturday's 12-race card will not lack for stakes action, with a pair of overnight events, the $50,000 Sunny Issues and Sonic Gray stakes, on the docket to help fill the void.

The Sunny Issue, carded at a mile on the turf for 3-year-old fillies, drew a full field of 12 plus a pair of also-eligibles. The lineup includes several Northern invaders, including stakes winner Jesse's Justice, the listed-stakes-placed Tanguista, the stakes-placed Queen Joanne, Datts Our Girl, and Correntina.

The home forces are led by the speedy Cheri Ami and the multiple turf stakes winner Snow Cone.

Jesse's Justice, trained by Todd Pletcher, won a restricted New York-bred stakes going a mile this summer over the Saratoga turf. A daughter of Lear Fan, she will try to rebound from the worst performance of her career, which came over soft ground in the Office Miss Stakes on Oct. 20.

Tanguista is stepping up off a game second-level allowance win in her local debut on Nov. 5. Trained by Christophe Clement, Tanguista finished third against listed stakes company in her native France before shipping to the United States during the summer.

Queen Joanne was a hard-luck second in Belmont Park's Pebbles Stakes in October. A daughter of Mr. Greeley, she owns the highest turf Beyer Speed Figure in the field, 91, a number that she posted in both the Pebbles and in a narrow entry-level allowance win at Saratoga six weeks earlier.

Cher Ami will return to the grass for the first time since finishing a dismal seventh under allowance conditions last spring at Tampa. Since that outing, Cheri Ami has captured 4 of 5 starts, all stakes, on dirt, including the one-mile Runaway Marcie Stakes by seven lengths here on Nov. 3.

Snow Cone has been among the division leaders all year long for trainer Marty Wolfson and has finished first or second in seven of her eight starts over the local grass course. A daughter of Cryptoclearance, she has been very sharp in her last three appearances, sandwiching a victory in the Judy's Red Shoes between a pair of hard-luck second place finishes in the Ravolia and Calder Oaks.

"She's a very consistent filly and probably should have won the Oaks if she hadn't gotten into a little trouble," said Wolfson.

The Sonic Gray will be decided at 1 1/16 miles on the main track and attracted a field of only seven older fillies and mares. The race will see a rematch of Running Lass, Amazing Speed, and Gadolinium, the respective first-, second-, and fourth-place finishers in the seven-furlong Connie Ann Stakes on Nov. 24.

Running Lass posted her first win of the season when she led throughout in the Connie Ann. Amazing Speed chased Running Lass from start to finish but proved no match through the final furlong, the setback coming on the heels of consecutive victories in the Cinnamon Girl Stakes and Shocker T. Handicap.

The Sunny Issues and Sonic Gray are the first two overnight stakes to be worth $50,000 since purses were originally cut here last month. At the time, all overnight races were slashed from $50,000 to $35,000, but management has since reinstated the original value of those races as well as the 7 percent reduction in overnight purses announced at that time. The Cherokee Frolic and Kris S. are the only permanent casualties of the original cuts.