01/23/2003 12:00AM

Chispiski plays catch-me-if-you-can


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Ron Spatz has been non-committal about whether Chispiski will gun to the lead Saturday in the leadoff race of the Sunshine Millions series, the $250,000 Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park.

"She's the kind of horse you can do anything with," said Spatz, "but I'm not one to call one back that has a lot of speed. So let it be."

Translation: They're going to have to catch Chispiski before anything else can happen. Or as Gulfstream track announcer Vic Stauffer said earlier this week at the Millions post-position draw: "If anybody else needs the lead, they're in big, big trouble."

Chispiski, owned by Brazil Stable, is one of those rare horses with the number "1" dominating her past performances. A 4-year-old Florida-bred by Appealing Skier, she has developed into a veritable speed demon, habitually leading to the stretch regardless of company or distance.

Indeed, with the Florida-bred Chispiski seemingly destined to be sent to the lead by Julio Garcia after breaking from post 1 in a field of 11, the six-furlong Filly and Mare Sprint surely will have a wicked pace. Other starters with lots of early speed include Icantgoforthat, Brite Sunny Day, and Maria's Mirage.

The bad news for Chispiski is that a scenario with too much pace might very well set up the Filly and Mare Sprint for one of the California invaders, Madame Pietra, the morning-line favorite who enters this race in peak form, having run first or second in her last six starts. Trained by Howard Zucker, Madame Pietra is entered off back-to-back wins in the Corona and Cascapedia handicaps at Hollywood Park last fall. Unlike the statebred races in which a number of starters have spent a considerable amount of time, those races were for open company, and it is little wonder that Madame Pietra will be one of the strongest favorites on the Sunshine Millions card, especially with Pat Valenzuela to ride.

Another mare with some late kick, Fly Me Crazy, also rates a decent chance if Chispiski and her cohorts go at a screaming pace early. Fly Me Crazy is owned by Mike Gill and trained by Mark Shuman, the team that has absolutely dominated the first few weeks of the Gulfstream meet. Fly Me Crazy most recently finished second in the Grade 3 First Lady Handicap after getting away to a sluggish start.

Longer-priced possibilities in the Filly and Mare Sprint include Icantgoforthat, a rapid Cal-bred 4-year-old coming off a win in the restricted Survive Stakes for trainer Steve Knapp; Warren's Whistle, who gets Pat Day in her third start since being transferred into the barn of Dallas Stewart; and Four Pennies, a Florida-bred filly who has run several powerful races for trainer Manny Tortora.

The rest of the field is Wish It Were, Shameful, and Jetinto Houston.