06/22/2005 11:00PM

Filly's date with a megastar


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After upsetting the Californian Stakes last weekend with Lava Man, accomplished while spending a brief holiday in the Hawaiian sun, trainer Doug O'Neill must feel invincible.

And why not? Deep into the meet, O'Neill is sitting pretty for his second summer title, topping the Hollywood charts in both wins and money. He has serious candidates for most of the remaining major events on the stakes calendar, including Lava Man for the Hollywood Gold Cup and Milady Handicap winner Andujar for the Vanity Handicap.

At this rate, the only thing O'Neill is certain to lose is the glow of his Hawaiian tan. So why not tee it up and take a shot at knocking off the only bona fide superstar in action out West these days? When you're walking around lucky, always find a way to roll the dice.

O'Neill and owner Paul Reddam will be running their newly acquired 4-year-old filly Winendyneme (that's wine-and-dine-me) in the $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap on Saturday at 1 1/4 miles on the Hollywood grass. To win, all she has to do is handle Megahertz (as in mega-hurts), which is like telling your teenage son that if he really wants a date with Lindsay Lohan, he only needs to ask.

Megahertz, all hard-twisted 800 pounds of her, gets both her firm course and her best distance as she goes for her third straight major victory of the year. By now, in her fourth full season of California racing for Bobby Frankel and owner Michael Bello, Megahertz has become a true crowd-pleaser, with a deep stretch kick that echoes such theatrical performers as Cougar, Vigors, and even Silky Sullivan.

Strange things can happen, though, especially in handicaps, wherein a weight differential can take a measurable toll when spread over a route of ground. Possibly Perfect, on her way to a championship season for Frankel, could not catch Alpride while giving her nine pounds, 124-115, in the 1995 Beverly Hills, run then at 1 1/8 miles. Johnica, at 115, turned back champion Estrapade under 125 pounds in the 1985 version of the race. And in 1972, when the Beverly Hills was 11 furlongs, champion Typecast, at 127, was upset by Hill Circus, whose 115 pounds was comprised mostly of Bill Shoemaker.

Depending on jockey overweights, Megahertz, carrying 124, could be giving her opposition anywhere from nine to 12 pounds on Saturday. Winendyneme, at 115, deserves every ounce of the break, although she is no stranger to classy competition.

In a dozen starts for Jenine Sahadi, Winendyneme ran well against the likes of Ticker Tape, Solar Echo, Elusive Diva, and Amorama. She ended her stay with Sahadi in style, winning two small stakes over the Hollywood grass in May to spark Reddam's interest. The deal was made two weeks ago.

"I guess the real hope is that she can get a little more distance than she's been running," O'Neill said, noting that Winendynme has yet to compete beyond a mile.

"To do that they need to settle that first six or seven furlongs and then produce that explosive kick home," O'Neill went on. "The little bit of time we've had her, it's obvious that Jenine had her real settled. In her last race" - the one-mile Tranquility Lake Stakes on May 29 - "she sure exploded that last sixteenth. And it looked like if her rider wanted to sit quiet for another quarter-mile she would have let him."

O'Neill describes Winendyneme as "fullbackish looking," hardly the description of the classic mile-and-a-quarter mare.

"She has a real good hind end, but she's not real tall and doesn't have a lot of air between the ground and her chest," O'Neill noted. "But when you think of Megahertz, there's not a lot of size to her, either. The good ones seem to come in all shapes and sizes."

On paper, there is no reason Winendyneme can't get the 10 furlongs. She has a grandsire (Caerleon) who won the French Derby and a granddam (Dingle Bay) who won the Hollywood Oaks at nine furlongs. Winendyneme's sire is Dynaformer, whose sons and daughters include Dynever, Film Maker, and Perfect Drift, not to mention Yorkshire Oaks winner Ocean Silk and Eclipse Award champion McDynamo, a two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase at 2 5/8 miles.

Still, Winendynme will need more than pedigree and recent form to handle Megahertz. A restraining order might help, but short of that, O'Neill can at least be hopeful of an upset strategy.

"It doesn't look like there will be a blistering pace," O'Neill said. "Maybe, just maybe, if Megahertz has too much to do that last quarter-mile she'll run out of real estate and we'll find the right place at the right time."

That's a big if. In a race like the Beverly Hills, Megahertz always seems to catch what's in front of her, no matter what has happened to that point.

"They don't come around like her too often," O'Neill conceded. "Just to see the emotional effect she has on a rough and tough guy like Bobby Frankel is enough to know how special she is. And just to be competing against a filly like that is an honor. To beat her - I think I'd get just as emotional."