10/01/2003 11:00PM

Daydreaming will turn tables


NEW YORK - Breeders' Cup Day is three weeks from Saturday, which means that for the vast majority of horses with Breeders' Cup aspirations, this weekend is the last chance to get a stakes prep race. On Saturday, there are a ton of such races.

At Belmont Park, there are three Grade 1 races - the $750,000 Beldame, the $500,000 Champagne, and the $500,000 Frizette - as well as the Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap. At Keeneland, there is the Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile, along with the $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity and the $150,000 Sycamore Breeders' Cup. At Santa Anita, there is the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap and the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby. There is the $400,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, which has Breeders' Cup Classic implications. And, there is even a stakes tripleheader at Philadelphia Park, and two of their races, the $250,000 Cotillion Handicap and the $150,000 Gallant Bob Handicap, could conceivably be used as springboards to Breeders' Cup events.

There are also other happenings on Saturday's stakes calendar. Saturday is Best of Ohio Day at Beulah Park, with five stakes for Ohio-breds worth a total of $330,000, and it is Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Night at Retama Park, with eight stakes for Texas-breds worth a total of more than $400,000.

Told you there's a lot going on. Here are my three spotlight stakes:


Daydreaming was beaten 9 1/2 lengths as the 6-5 favorite in the Spinaway at Saratoga by Ashado, whom she faces again in this spot. Because of that, Daydreaming won't be nearly as low a price Saturday, but she is my pick to make amends. Daydreaming stumbled at the start of the Spinaway and then, perhaps because of that bad break, seemed rank in the early stages. She settled much better early on when she broke cleanly, if slowly, in her maiden romp in her career debut two starts back, and she showed what she is capable of by earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 88. That Beyer is better than the Beyers that Ashado earned in her two stakes victories, and it equals what Victory U. S. A. received when she was no match for Halfbridled, and lost second to a maiden, in the Del Mar Debutante.

Daydreaming gets Lasix for the first time Saturday, and is also bred to adore the stretch-out in distance. Both factors suggest that, with better luck at the start, Daydreaming will at least match, and more likely exceed, that 88 Beyer from her first race. If she does, that will probably be good enough.

Shadwell Turf Mile

Soaring Free, the selection, ran a winning race when a narrowly beaten second last time out in the Atto Mile. While Atto Mile winner Touch of the Blues and third-place finisher Perfect Soul (who are both also in this race) both rallied strongly into hot fractions, Soaring Free was right with that demanding Atto Mile pace and was only nailed late after taking the lead in midstretch.

This race sets up very differently. The only other true speed here is the overmatched Fredericktown. Soaring Free can sit a much more comfortable stalking trip this time, meaning he should be able to expend less energy prompting and overtaking Fredericktown, and should have more in reserve to hold off Touch of the Blues and Trademark. Trademark was red-hot at Saratoga, but with the aid of perfect trips.

Indiana Derby

The undefeated Grand Hombre may be a monster, but given the fact that he will be a short price, he's going to have to prove to me that he can deal with the extreme outside post here, and that his huge win in the Pennsylvania Derby wasn't slop-aided.

I'm going with Wando, whose fourth in the Atto Mile most recently was a commendable effort. He gained ground through a very quick second quarter, moved to the lead through a moderately quick third quarter, and fought gamely. Wando goes turf-to-dirt here, and the last time he did that he won big. He also moves back in with straight 3-year-olds, which is a major class drop. Wando won his last five starts against members of his own age group, including the Canadian Triple Crown.