03/21/2002 12:00AM

For Forest Heiress, the extra furlong is a new frontier

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Forest Heiress, beaten at 3-10 in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 6, appears to have found a soft spot to make amends when she heads a six-horse field entered in Saturday's $100,000, Grade 3 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct.

A daughter of Forest Wildcat, Forest Heiress won 4 of 5 starts as a 2-year-old, including the Sorority at Monmouth Park and the Valley Stream at Aqueduct, both Grade 3 races.

After finishing second to A New Twist in the Old Hat, Forest Heiress was found to have a bruised foot, which forced her to miss a week of training and the Forward Gal Stakes.

She has since been equipped with glue-on shoes and has been training steadily for trainer Ben Perkins Jr.

The question the speedy Forest Heiress has to answer is if she can get seven furlongs, a distance she has yet to attempt. All four of her wins have come in races run at six furlongs or shorter. She finished second, beaten a half-length by Bella Bellucci, in the 6 1/2-furlong Astarita Breeders' Cup last fall at Belmont.

"I don't think it'll be a problem," Perkins said. "She's a nice, relaxed filly. She ran real well going 6 1/2 furlongs. She doesn't have to be on the lead."

Forest Heiress came from just slightly off the pace winning the Valley Stream in a stakes-record time of 1:08.66 for six furlongs. Richard Migliore, aboard that day, will be back aboard Saturday from post 4.

Migliore chose Forest Heiress over Proper Gamble, whom he guided to a win in the Dearly Precious Stakes on Feb. 16.

Proper Gamble probably has to run back to her preliminary allowance win from last Oct. 25 to win Saturday. In that race, Proper Gamble defeated A New Twist by two lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

John Hassett, assistant to Proper Gamble's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said that performance might have taken the starch out of Proper Gamble when she took on Forest Heiress in the Valley Stream 24 days later and finished fourth.

"Every time this filly has been A-one in my mind she won," Hassett said.

"She set a track record at The Meadowlands the first time she ran," noted Hassett. "She beat A New Twist convincingly and won a stakes last time. I'm hoping for an A-one performance."

Proper Gamble is the 122-pound highweight and will break from post 6 under Javier Castellano.

Short Note, who defeated subsequent stakes winner Bema in a Feb. 14 allowance race, is the other with a chance to upset. Haunted Lass, Mrscoppolas-kitchen, and Two Times a Lady complete the field.

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