08/18/2004 11:00PM

Formal Miss has been everything but lucky


MIAMI - Trip handicappers will be eagerly awaiting Saturday's $100,000 Aspidistra Handicap at Calder and a chance to bet on Formal Miss in the one-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares.

Formal Miss was beaten a head by All the Honor three weeks earlier in the Georgia Peaches Stakes, but most observers, including her trainer Paul Maxwell, thought Formal Miss would have won the race if she hadn't been blocked and bottled up in traffic while full of run around the final turn.

"She was tons the best in her last start," said Maxwell. "She got stopped several times, went from the inside to the outside and back to the inside again, and got beat a lip."

The Georgia Peaches was the most recent in a string of frustrating outings for Formal Miss, whose only victory this season came in the Liberada Handicap on May 15.

"Look at her past performance lines and you'll see she's been steadied in the majority of her races," said Maxwell. "She should have also won the stakes in Tampa [Turf Distaff] with a little luck, but she got bothered through the stretch. I think if the race Saturday is run identical to the last one and she has any racing luck, she should win."

Maxwell will change riders in the hopes of getting a clean trip for Formal Miss in the Aspidistra, going back to jockey M.R. Cruz, who was her regular rider earlier this winter.

"We're back on Cruz control Saturday," quipped Maxwell.

Formal Miss will carry 119 pounds, one less than her nemesis All the Honor, who is the starting highweight in the Aspidistra under 120 pounds. A daughter of Double Honor, All the Honor returned from a five-month layoff to win the Georgia Peaches and now owns a 2-0 edge in head-to-head matches with Formal Miss. She has also won five of her last six starts since trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. switched her to the grass last fall.

Trainer Marty Wolfson has entered three fillies - Arab Miss, Adobe Gold, and Pampered Princess - for the Aspidistra, but he'll likely start only Arab Miss and Adobe Gold if the race goes as scheduled on the turf.

Arab Miss finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind All the Honor and Formal Miss, in the Georgia Peaches while making her first start in in nearly three months.

Adobe Gold has risen to the top of the local 3-year-old division with easy victories over the main track in the Halo America and Mia's Hope stakes. Wolfson said, however, that he is confident Adobe Gold will handle the grass with equal aplomb considering she is a daughter of the stakes-winning turf mare Urus.