06/07/2002 11:00PM

First the home front, then the western


MIAMI - Trainer Bill Cesare has gotten his wish, an invitation for his multiple stakes winning 3-year-old filly Cellars Shiraz to Hollywood Park's $500,000 American Oaks Stakes on July 6. But before he thinks about shipping west, there is still a little business to take care of on the home front - namely, next Saturday's $100,000 Office Queen Stakes.

"As long as she runs well Saturday, and I think she'll be 1-2-3 in there, and I can make the flight arrangements, we'll take her to California," said Cesare, who trains Cellars Shiraz for the Bitterroot Racing Stable.

Cellars Shiraz proved herself the top 3-year-old filly based in Florida during the opening half of the current season, with victories in the Herecomesthebride, Gaily Gaily, and Via Borghese Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She then shipped to Churchill Downs, where she finished second as the favorite in the Edgewood Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Cellars Shiraz has proven to be both a talented and versatile sort this year, with two of her stakes wins coming on the turf and the third, the Gaily Gaily, an easy 5 3/4-length triumph over the main track. The Office Queen will be decided at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, while the American Oaks is carded for 1 1/4 miles on turf.

"I think she's a little better on the turf than the dirt but the only alternative to running her here next Saturday in the Office Queen was to take her back to Churchill for a turf stakes next week," Cesare said in reference to the Grade 3 Regret. "This looks like an easier spot. It should be a good prep for the race in California."

Only 11 horses were nominated for the Office Queen and one, the Neil Howard-trained Charmed Gift, is not expected to make the trip.

"If Neil's horse doesn't ship, then it looks like Four Pennies is the one to beat," said Cesare.

Four Pennies has won three of her last four starts, including the one-mile Cut the Charm Stakes by nine lengths for trainer Manny Tortora.

Dynamic duo

The owner-trainer combination of Michael Sherman and Angel Salinas continue to send out young horses to win races at an amazing clip.

On Saturday, the pair teamed up with King Robyn, who captured his career debut impressively, covering five furlongs in 58.68 seconds over a sloppy track, the fastest 2-year-old clocking at the distance here this season.

Last week Sherman and Salinas sent out Heavenly Miss to win at first asking, with her final clocking of 52.77 seconds the best 4 1/2 furlong time at the meet.