08/16/2006 11:00PM

Is favorite ready to run her best?


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Spirit to Spare will try and keep her unblemished record at 6 1/2 furlongs intact when she takes on four other fillies and mares in the $50,000 Cover Girl Handicap at Hastings Saturday.

Spirit to Spare, who is trained by Tom Longstaff and will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, has won all seven of her starts at the distance. If she were up to running her usual race, she would easily handle her overmatched opponents. That's a big if, though. Spirit to Spare hasn't started since she beat Monashee in the Vancouver Sun Handicap May 13 and Longstaff is a bit concerned that she might need a race.

"She's only had a couple of half-mile works and I would have liked to have gotten at least one more work into her," he said. "Her latest work was supposed to be five furlongs, but she acted up and bucked Mario off. Luckily he landed on the pony that was accompanying them. She was back-tracking and when he got back on she just turned around and took off on him. She does have a mind of her own."

Longstaff has also changed the way he usually trains Spirit to Spare. "She's so hard on herself when she gallops that we started ponying her instead," he said. "She seems to be a lot more relaxed out there now."

Stole One and April Foolish appear to have the best chance of ending Spirit to Spare's streak.