03/26/2008 11:00PM

Highest Class liable to like nine furlongs


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Figure out which of the seven 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's $150,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park can get 1 1/8 miles, and picking the winner of the wide-open Grade 2 stakes becomes a much easier task.

Trainer Neil Howard firmly believes his filly, Highest Class, will handle the distance, and that should be enough for many handicappers to back the Louisiana invader in her south Florida debut.

Highest Class, a daughter of Mineshaft, is coming off the best performance of her career when third behind division leaders Indian Blessing and Proud Spell in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds. Howard then opted to pass the Fair Grounds Oaks to point Highest Class to the Bonnie Miss.

"Those are two hellacious fillies we ran against the last time, and we decided why do it again at a mile and one-sixteenth when the mile and one- eighth Bonnie Miss should be right up our alley," said Howard. "I'm confident this filly will go a mile and one-eighth. The Mineshafts get better with maturity, and the way she trains and runs I think the further she goes the better."

None of Highest Class's six rivals in the Bonnie Miss has tried 1 1/8 miles, including Backseat Rhythm, who figures to vie for favoritism with the Louisiana invader. Backseat Rhythm does have the distinction of being the only Grade 1-placed member of the lineup, having finished second behind the champion 2-year-old filly Indian Blessing in the Frizette and a troubled third behind her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Backseat Rhythm, who won her maiden on the grass, went back to the turf for her 3-year-old debut, finishing third after a wide trip under allowance conditions here Feb. 22.

"She's trained super since her last start, and turf to dirt is sometimes a good angle," said trainer Pat Reynolds.

Shes All Eltish is another versatile sort. She returns to the main track after finishing second behind the red-hot I Lost My Choo over the turf on March 9. A daughter of Eltish, Shes All Eltish won an entry-level allowance going a mile on the main track three weeks earlier.

Trainer Nick Zito supplemented Overandabeauty to the Bonnie Miss and may have the one to catch breaking from the rail. Overandabeauty is coming off a second behind Halo Hollie, another member of the Bonnie Miss lineup, after setting a contested pace going a mile Feb. 24.

Robbie's Gal could also have a say in the early running after finishing third behind Bsharpsonata and Game Face in the one-mile Grade 2 Davona Dale earlier this month.