03/10/2005 1:00AM

Door open for Plaid, 'Tempus'


The local queen has temporarily abdicated her position for the sake of perpetuating her lineage. So with Golden Marlin away at the breeding shed, favoritism in Saturday's $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes at Turfway Park probably will be split between Tempus Fugit and Plaid, two of the nine fillies and mares entered in the race.

Trainer Greg Foley said he had hoped Golden Marlin would be back in time to run in the Wintergreen, the highlight of a 12-race card at the Florence, Ky., track. The preeminent force in the local filly-mare ranks this winter, Golden Marlin is in central Kentucky, being bred to Unbridled's Song.

"We want to run her a time or two after she gets in foal and comes back into training," said Foley, who has dominated the Turfway training ranks this winter. "We'd hoped to run her Saturday, but it didn't work out. Hopefully I'll have her back in time to get her ready for the Queen," he said, referring to the March 26 race at Turfway.

Golden Marlin ran second as the odds-on favorite behind Tempus Fugit in the last filly-mare stakes at Turfway, the Feb. 12 Likely Exchange at one mile. The Wintergreen will also be run at a mile, and if Tempus Fugit runs like she did in notching her first career stakes victory in the Likely Exchange, she will be very difficult to beat Saturday.

Trained by Bernie Flint, (post 3) has been a mainstay of the Kentucky circuit for several years. A 5-year-old mare by Alphabet Soup, her strength is her speed, and surely jockey Dean Sarvis will attempt to dole out that speed shrewdly to give her an excellent chance at a second straight stakes win.

Her main rival, (post 9), earned an eye-catching 102 Beyer Speed Figure when she captured a Feb. 25 allowance route by 14 1/2 lengths at Turfway in her last start. That effort was a remarkable turnaround for Plaid, a 4-year-old who had struggled in prior races at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, so obviously trainer Dallas Stewart will be hoping for a repeat of that last performance.

The rest of the Wintergreen field is So Welcome, Honorable Cat, Evil Eye Aly, Plumlake Lady, Mariaworth, Slammin' Lil, and Strike Me Lucky.

The Wintergreen, named for the 1909 Kentucky Derby winner, goes as the 10th race on a card that also includes two allowances, races 7 and 9.