05/19/2004 11:00PM

Class jump? More like drop


Everheart, beaten at odds-on in a second-level allowance at Keeneland in her most recent start, may actually be in for an easier time of things on Saturday as she makes her stakes debut in the Wafare Farm Stakes at Lone Star Park. The six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies drew a field of six that includes just one stakes winner, Bluegrass Sara, who has been idle since September.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, who also sends out Bluegrass Sara, Everheart is no stranger to the role of heavy favorite. A daughter of Grand Slam, Everheart has been the public's choice ever since she won at first asking last fall at Keeneland. After back-to-back runner-up efforts, she won an optional claimer over the winter before making the journey back to Keeneland for the lucrative spring meeting.

In that most recent allowance try, on April 17, Everheart was within striking distance in the early going before encountering traffic trouble into the turn. Jockey Shane Sellers was forced to check up, and did not get his mount back on stride until a quarter-mile remained. Never giving up, Everheart lodged a bid past the furlong marker and got within a neck of the leaders, but had to settle for third, beaten less than a length.

Eddie Martin hopes to avoid such trouble on Saturday as he takes the call at 120 pounds.

Ona Rampage, who has finished third in two Sunland Park stakes this year, appears to be the main threat to the Asmussen duo. Bred in Texas by owners Joan and Bill McArthur, Ona Rampage has won twice in her career while racing exclusively in the Southwest.

Most recently, she finished third yet again, in the La Fiesta Handicap at Albuquerque. Her connections are hoping the trip east will help her out of her habit of completing the trifecta. Cliff Berry will be in the saddle at 116 pounds.

Bluegrass Sara, on the shelf since finishing fifth in the filly division of the Friendship Stakes last fall at Louisiana Downs, returns to the oval where she won three races to begin her career. After easily winning her trial for the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity, she went on to capture the finals in equally impressive fashion. She completed the Lone Star hat trick with a six-length win in the Silver Spur Handicap during the final week of last year's season.

Bluegrass Sara has been training well of late, and the Wafare is a good spot for her return. Jeremy Beasley rides at 118 pounds.