06/11/2004 11:00PM

Fast fillies reappear in sprint


MIAMI - Monday's $40,000 Vague Memory, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares, will offer a final opportunity for several members of the field to earn starting berths on the rich Summit of Speed card on July 10. It will also mark the return of several talented young fillies, including the multiple stakes winner French Village.

French Village was the queen of her division here last summer, capturing her first three starts, including the Desert Vixen and Susan's Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes, by a combined margin of a dozen lengths. But her bid to sweep the series came to an end - along with her 2-year-old campaign - on Oct. 11, when she stopped badly and finished seventh behind Chatter Chatter in the My Dear Girl Stakes.

Trainer Bill White sent French Village back home to owner Laura and Eugene Melnyk's Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala after the My Dear Girl. She has worked well for her 3-year-old debut, including covering five furlongs in 59.60 seconds on June 2. A big effort in the six-furlong Vague Memory could earn French Village a spot in the Grade 3, $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup on July 10.

"By the time she got to the My Dear Girl she was pretty wrung out, so we decided just to give her some time off," said White. "The 59-and-change work signaled to me she was ready. If she shows me Monday she's all the way back, then she'll absolutely go in the Azalea."

Also returning in the Vague Memory following prolonged absences are Beautiful Honor and Najibes Acre.

Najibes Acre has not started since winning a first-level allowance race by four lengths on Jan. 2. Beautiful Honor won her only two starts at 3 but has been idle since easily defeating Mary Murphy under second-level allowance conditions in November.

"I had to stop on her at 2 because of shins, and again last year because of hind-end problems," said Beautiful Honor's trainer, Marty Wolfson. "When she's right she's very, very fast. Unfortunately, because of her problems she can only run two or three times a year, but if she runs well Monday I'd consider the Princess Rooney."

Despite the presence of French Village, Beautiful Honor, and Najibes Acre, the horse to beat in the Vague Memory is Crafty Brat. A 4-year-old daughter of Lucky Lionel, Crafty Brat finished third in the 2003 Azalea Breeders' Cup and appears to be rounding back to her top form at the most opportune time, with the Summit of Speed and the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap just around the corner.

Crafty Brat is coming off a second-place finish behind Mary Murphy in the Sugar N Spice Stakes on May 30, earning an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. That number is her best since she finished second in the Valid Linda Stakes here in August. She should also benefit from what figures to be an honest pace in the Vague Memory, with Beautiful Honor, Sea Span, and Sexy Stockings in the lineup.