09/21/2006 12:00AM

Here's where the stars separate from the rest

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One of the more fascinating aspects of fall racing is watching the good 2-year-olds develop. We should know a lot more about several up-and-comers after the Matron and Futurity are run on the first day of autumn.

In the Matron, there are two intriguing storylines. One revolves around Cash's Girl, whose pedigree and background are startlingly similar to the early development of Afleet Alex. The other revolves around which Magical Ride we will see - the one who received a Beyer Speed Figure of 102 first time out (the top figure among 2-year-olds, male or female, thus far) or the one who received a 63 for finishing third in the Adirondack at odds-on.

The similarities between Cash's Girl and Afleet Alex are exceptional. Afleet Alex was by Northern Afleet and out of the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk; Cash's Girl is by the same sire and out of Jolie Hawk, an unraced daughter of Maggy Hawk, which makes Cash's Girl's dam a half-sister to Afleet Alex.

Cash's Girl won her debut at Delaware Park by 11 3/4 lengths and earned a Beyer of 90 for running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.63, nearly a full second faster than the second division run two races later. If the similarities to Afleet Alex continue, Cash's Girl may hold form shipping to New York and stepping up in class. Recall that Afleet Alex also won his Delaware debut by over 11 lengths, earning an 83 Beyer, and after following with an allowance win (89), he shipped to Saratoga to win the Sanford (102) and Hopeful (90) before finishing his season with seconds in the Champagne (99) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (97).

The key differences might be that Afleet Alex had that allowance race before moving into stakes, and his distance progression was a bit more gradual. Cash's Girl goes right from maiden to stakes, and also has to stretch out three-sixteenths of a mile

That is the same class jump and stretch-out Magical Ride was attempting in the Adirondack, in which she set the pace to deep stretch and was run down by Octave and 30-1 shot True Addiction. Initially, the Beyer for the race was a 75, but it has since been adjusted to 68. The average Adirondack figure going back to the early 1990's is just under 88, and Octave's 68 is the lowest winning figure, replacing Folklore's 75 last year, when it was run the first day of the Saratoga meet in the spot traditionally held by the Schuylerville. Of course, Folklore developed rapidly in the fall, winning the Matron by 14 lengths with a 99 Beyer and cementing her Eclipse Award with an 87 Beyer to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The Beyer may have been low, but it measures final time only and does not reflect the exceptionally fast pace of 21.83 and 45.09 seconds set by Magical Ride on what was a deep and tiring racetrack.

"We walked out of that race with a tougher horse, I think," said trainer Rusty Arnold. "She was nervous in the gate and needed to do a couple of little things, which she didn't do. I call it 'second start-itis.' "

Second start-itis could be a factor in a Futurity that matches Saratoga debut winners C P West, Incriminate, and Kong's Revenge against the more experienced King of the Roxy. Purchased by Team Valor Stables after a maiden win at Hollywood Park, King of the Roxy was then shipped East and given over to Todd Pletcher, who sent him out to a close second-place finish in the Saratoga Special.

C P West (86), Incriminate (88), and King of the Roxy (90) are closely matched on the Beyers based on their performances at the Spa, but a hidden pace edge may belong to Incriminate, a $1.5 million purchase by Darley Stable who battled through fast fractions on the Travers undercard. The 22.03 first quarter was the fastest of the day, and the 44.95 half-mile was the second-fastest of the day, surpassed only by the 44.62 fraction turned in by Henny Hughes in the Grade 1 King's Bishop for 3-year-olds.

"He showed a lot more speed than I expected him to," said Garrett Gomez, who rode Incriminate. "I think he got a lot out of that race and he'll keep moving forward."

Moving forward is what the really good juveniles will do, starting now.