11/19/2001 12:00AM

This filly's zip is best in the West


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Now that Ayanna has established herself as the fastest 2-year-old filly in California, she will be promptly forgotten. At least, that's the way things usually go.

For some strange reason, her runaway victory in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park last Sunday was not impressive enough to stand on its own.

Ayanna had barely caught her breath before the questions filled the air: Will she relax? Will she route? What about the Kentucky Oaks?

At this point, who cares? Why do we want to hold her against a standard set by the likes of Genuine Risk, Dance Smartly, or Silverbulletday when, with a little luck, she could evolve into the next Safely Kept, Soviet Problem, or Xtra Heat? Ayanna should be enjoyed for what she brings to the game - unbridled, breakneck speed and sheer physical abandon. She is a firecracker with a hair-trigger. Flinch and you can set her off.

"Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is sit still on a horse," said Mike Smith, who rode Ayanna for the first time in the Mocassin. "She does everything so easy, and so fast, she doesn't want you messing with her. When I breezed her the other morning, every time I moved - even a little bit - she wanted to cut and run."

Make no mistake, trainer Kory Owens has his work cut out. Ayanna has talent to burn. But right now she is burning too hot from the start. Her first six furlongs of the Moccasin were impressive. The last one, at 13.53 seconds, wasn't much to write home about.

"She'll have to learn to turn off if she's gonna go much longer," Smith said. "But it can happen. A mare we never thought would go long was Jersey Girl. When she was two, she was freaky fast. Then when she got a little older, all of a sudden one day the light just came on. She'd break and lay two or three off of them, and then when you moved that speed she always had was right there."

Good example. Jersey Girl was fast enough to win the 5 1/2-furlong Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park in early July of 1997 in her third start as a

2-year-old. At that point she had only one speed. Full. After the light went on, and she realized the self-destructive error of her ways, Jersey Girl won the Test, the Acorn, and the Mother Goose at seven, eight, and nine furlongs.

Even Moccasin herself had trouble going from a brilliant 2-year-old filly to a more sedate lifestyle at longer routes. She was able to win both the 1965 Selima and Gardenia Stakes at 8 1/2 furlongs, wrapping up an 8-for-8 season that included two non-wagering events (she was that intimidating). But at ages 3 and 4, her speed did not stay. On her best days, she won a division of the seven-furlong Test and defeated males in the six-furlong Phoenix Handicap.

Yet, Moccasin continues to be revered as one of the best. Ayanna could not choose a better role model.

"She'll figure it out," Smith added. "And from what I understand, she's better now than what she was. She was a little nervous in the post parade today, so I asked the pony girl if this is how she always was. She told me no, that she was acting about 10 times better than usual. So she's learning."

Smith, Stevens love their longshots

Smith had a little time to savor Ayanna's win before packing up. But not much. He was scheduled to leave Thursday for Tokyo, where he will be riding Cagney on Sunday in the $4 million Japan Cup.

"Sushi for Thanksgiving!" Smith beamed. "And my horse is getting good. If my horse runs like he did when he won the Burke at Santa Anita the other day, I'd have to give him a shot."

"Think so?" chimed in Gary Stevens, who was dressing in the next cubicle. "On the line I saw, they've got you 40-1 and my horse 20-1. According to them, we've got no chance. We're gonna have a good time, though."

Stevens rides White Heart, a headstrong runner from the deep Neil Drysdale stable who was edged by Senure in the Hirsch Championship early in the Oak Tree meet, his most recent start. Stevens, who won the Japan Cup in 1991 with Golden Pheasant, is convinced White Heart is ready to run a big race, mostly because he is the kind of horse who writes his own rules.

"He got me the other day, going to the track for his last work before shipping to Japan," Stevens said.

"Normally, I'll keep him in behind another horse in a set going to the track. But he was feeling so good that he was leading the way. We turned a corner, and somebody walked out of a barn and shook a fly sheet. That was all it took. He went right and I went left. They didn't catch him until he ran back down the road and circled Jenine Sahadi's barn about five times."

For White Heart, it was merely a warm-up. Stevens got back in the saddle and guided him to an impressive black-type work in company. The next day, White Heart headed for Tokyo.

"He may be 20-1 in their line," Stevens said. "But I'll be riding him like he's 9-to-2."