03/30/2006 12:00AM

Filly on rise could upset accomplished opponents


The $50,000 Fairway Fun Stakes Saturday at Turfway Park includes five stakes winners - Quite a Ruckus, Wendy's on to Me, Cape Hope, Tappin for Gold, and Ella Belle.

Other notable stakes performers among the 12 fillies and mares in the 1 1/16-mile race include Darling Daughter, third in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap earlier this year at Gulfstream, and Gallant Secret, who rallied to be third behind Summerly in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in 2005.

Yet a filly without any stakes wins or placings could prove to be the winner: Character Builder. A recent invader from south Florida, she enters the Fairway Fun in top form, having been second in a third-level allowance at Gulfstream on Feb. 15.

Last fall she also performed well, winning an allowance at Keeneland and running a close third in a Churchill Downs allowance behind Private Gift and Culinary, both stakes winners.

A daughter of Coronado's Quest, Character Builder is owned by her breeder, Bruce Lunsford. Eddie Martin Jr. rides for trainer Frankie Brothers.

Gallant Secret also aims to pick up her first stakes victory. After running behind some of the better 3-year-old fillies in the country last year, she has responded with a productive winter at Turfway, winning two of three starts over Turfway's Polytrack surface.

James Graham accepts the mount on Gallant Secret, who was ridden by Julien Leparoux in her most recent victory Feb. 25.

Leparoux, who is having a record-setting meet at Turfway and is the leading rider in the country by wins, will be aboard Age of Mythology, a French import trained by Patrick Biancone who makes her first start in the United Stakes. Her nine starts have all come on turf.

Does this situation sound familiar?

Last week Strong Contender was excluded from the Lane's End when 12 other 3-year-olds with higher earnings were entered. One week later, two fillies and mares, Campionessa and La Tache, find themselves in a similar position in the Fairway Fun.

Having the lowest 2005-06 earnings among 14 horses entered, they are stuck on an also-eligible list, behind 12 fillies and mares that drew into the body of the field. One could draw in if an early scratch occurs; both could if two scratches take place.

Strong Contender never got such an opportunity since the Lane's End did not have an also-eligible list.

The potential exclusion of Campionessa and La Tache seemingly has less impact on the Fairway Fun than the loss of Strong Contender from the Lane's End.