01/16/2003 12:00AM

Denali Cat primed for best effort


ALBANY, Calif. - When a field of 10 maiden 2-year-old fillies took the track at Bay Meadows Oct. 20, who would have thought that the best juvenile race of the year in northern California was about to be run?

Watch Out World and Denali Cat, who finished one-two in that race, meet again as top contenders seeking their initial stakes victory in Saturday's $60,000-added Miss California Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Tavy's Plan, the fourth-place finisher, is also entered in the six-furlong Miss California.

Four of the fillies in the Oct. 20 race won their next start. Two have already become stakes winners - third-place finisher Elloluv in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet and ninth-place finisher Maddie's Charm in the Corte Madera Stakes here.

Saturday's field of seven includes three northern California stakes winners - probable favorite Viansa Ossidiana, Market Garden, and Tale of a Dream - as well as Heart Ofa Champion, who has already run in four stakes worth at least $100,000.

Watch Out World and Denali Cat each won their second start - Watch Out World in an allowance and Denali Cat in a maiden race - and then met again in the Dec. 27 California Breeders' Championship going seven furlongs at Santa Anita. Denali Cat finished third after grabbing the lead in the stretch of the $125,000 race, while Watch Out World bled and finished a distant ninth.

"I think she's sitting on her best effort," said Brian Koriner, Denali Cat's trainer. "I've freshened her up and she should be ready to run the best race of her life."

Koriner is a part owner of the filly, who was an $80,000 purchase at a Barretts Sale last spring.

"I saw her at the Del Mar yearling sale, but I had the funds available at Barretts," Koriner said. "We had to pay twice as much for her there, but she looks worth it at the moment."

Watch Out World is a Robert and Barbara Walter homebred and a half-sister to Cavonnier, runner-up in the 1996 Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Armando Lage sounds as confident as Koriner in assessing Watch Out World's chances. He called the race at Santa Anita, "a throwout, at least in my book."

"She seems to be back in top shape," he added.

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