01/26/2006 1:00AM

Hennig has pair to challenge Oaks favorite


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Take a field of 14 3-year-old fillies coming in off starts at 10 different racetracks, and you have a recipe for the most wide-open and unpredictable race on Saturday's Sunshine Millions card at Gulfstream Park, the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks.

The six-furlong Oaks already has a history of unpredictability. Last year, 21-1 outsider Hot Storm rallied to a head victory in a 12-horse field at Santa Anita. This year, Knights Templar will likely be the favorite. A daughter of Exploit, she is the richest member of the field, having banked $255,000, and is already a graded stakes winner, with a 13-length win in Woodbine's Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes on her r?sum?. She is coming into the race off a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

forced the pace for six furlongs in the Juvenile Fillies before fading through the stretch and finishing a dozen lengths behind the winner and division champion, Folklore. Following the Breeders' Cup, trainer Danny Vella brought her back to the Adena Springs Farm in Ocala, Fla., to freshen up, and she has been working steadily for the past month.

Vella has tabbed Eddie Castro to ride Knights Templar for the first time in the Oaks.

Those inclined to seek a little more value will have plenty of options, including the Mark Hennig-trained pair of Peach Flambe and Fifth Avenue, who will run uncoupled in the wagering.

was purchased privately by owner J. Paul Reddam and the Rockin B B Ranch and turned over to Hennig following her impressive seven-length victory in Calder's seven-furlong Joe O'Farrell Juvenile Stakes on Nov. 12. She has four works over the Gulfstream strip during the past four weeks.

"I like what I've seen of her so far," Hennig said of Peach Flambe. "But I might like this race for her a little better if it were longer."

Fifth Avenue began her career with a flourish, winning her first two starts, including the Fashion Stakes, before finishing second behind Folklore in the Grade 2 Adirondack. But she tailed off thereafter, finishing far back in both the Grade 2 Spinaway and Grade 1 Matron Stakes.

"We stopped on Fifth Avenue after the Matron," said Hennig. "She was getting sour. She had some shin problems and had a couple of unfortunate trips in her last two starts."

Fifth Avenue worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds here last Saturday.

Hennig has reached out for Javier Castellano to ride Peach Flambe and Edgar Prado for Fifth Avenue.

Bully Bones figures to attract some attention coming off a 10 1/2-length victory in Turf Paradise's Arizona Juvenile Filly Stakes, a performance that earned her a Beyer Speed Figure of 97. The filly will have to use her high speed early, having drawn post 1.

California invaders Windy, Bettarun Fast, and are all contenders.

Windy, trained by Bobby Frankel, ships in off a fifth-place finish in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes, a race in which she had her chances compromised by a poor start after breaking from the rail.

Bettarun Fast began her career at Calder with three one-sided victories before being purchased privately and transferred into Vladimir Cerin's barn during the fall.

Joint Effort would also be dangerous if able to repeat the Beyer Figure of 94 she earned winning her 2-year-old finale at Churchill Downs.

The field

Sunshine Millions Oaks
Purse: $250,000; 6 furlongs

1Bully Bones (FL)T. Farina3-1
2Swap Fliparoo (FL)A. Lakeman12-1
3Lizzy's Township (FL)S. Bridgmohan10-1
4Knights Templar (FL)E. Castro9-2
5Running Lass (FL)R. Bejarano30-1
6Bettarun Fast (FL)P. Valenzuela10-1
7Peach Flambe (FL)J. Castellano8-1
8Fifth Avenue (FL)E. Prado15-1
9A Sea Trippi (FL)M. Smith30-1
10Lake Alice (FL)K. Chapman50-1
11Joint Effort (FL)M. Guidry5-1
12Home Alona (CA)E. Trujillo20-1
13Windy (CA)A. Solis8-1
14Devons Smokin (CA)J. Velazquez15-1

* All starters carry 120 pounds
* Odds by Art Gropper