11/13/2008 12:00AM

Holiday Girl dangerous in stakes debut

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Often when a 2-year-old wins his debut in dominant fashion or in fast time, the next time out is not the time to play the horse. These winners can bounce, and even when they don't, their odds are typically short.

But this general rule doesn't seem to apply to youngsters trained by Steve Klesaris, and horseplayers with confidence in his statistics with such types may find Holiday Girl of interest in Saturday's $150,000 Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine.

She is an intriguing play, particularly if she sticks to her 4-1 morning-line price. The reason? Klesaris is 8 for 25 over the last five years with juveniles making their second start after winning at first asking, which translates to a 32 percent win rate.

Half of those eight winners came in stakes - including Sky Diva and Mani Bhavan, who won graded stakes races this year in New York after debut victories in fast times at Delaware Park.

Neither bounced. Mani Bhavan won first time out July 12 with an 88 Beyer Speed Figure, and proceeded to romp in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga with a 99 Beyer. And Sky Diva won going two turns in her debut, receiving a 79 Beyer, before winning the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont with an 85 Beyer.

Both fillies were owned by Puglisi Racing, as is Holiday Girl.

Holiday Girl will have to develop to match the accomplishments of her stablemates, but certainly her debut was an encouraging effort. She settled just off the pace, launched a powerful four-wide rally to surge to the lead at the top of the stretch, and drew away to an eight-length victory under a hand ride.

Her time of 58.05 seconds for five furlongs on a fast track, which included a final eighth in 11.70 seconds, earned her a 78 Beyer.

Although Holiday Girl is untested on Polytrack, the surface at Woodbine, I am encouraged that Klesaris sent her there for her second start. He had other options - she was nominated for the $60,000 Pontalba Stakes at Fair Grounds, where Klesaris has a string of runners - but he elected to send her after a big pot in the Glorious Song.

Having trained her over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Fair Hill in Maryland, he likely has a good feel that she will like the similar Polytrack surface. If that proves correct, she may be ready for immediate stakes success - just as her stablemates were.

Callwood Dancer strong in Cardinal

With the weather forecast for Louisville calling for rain beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Saturday, the Gradeo3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs on Saturday figures to be run on a wet turf course - if indeed it stays on the grass.

A wet course would play to the strength of Callwood Dancer, who finished second behind J'ray in the Gradeo2 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine over yielding ground Sept.o7 in one of her better performances.

Illustrating the strength of that race - finishing two lengths behind her in third was Forever Together, the subsequent winner of the First Lady and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Not that Callwood Dancer is strictly a filly that does well on wet ground. She followed the Canadian with a runner-up finish in the E. P. Taylor behind the front-running Folk Opera, who stole away to an easy lead.

Callwood Dancer faces no opponents of the quality of J'ray, Forever Together, or Folk Opera in the Cardinal - and if the race is on a wet turf course, her class and fondness for racing over such going should result in a victory.

Solar Flare deserves another chance

Similarly, the weather in New York Saturday is forecast to be wet, creating the possibility of an off track in the Stuyvesant Handicap, a 1o1/8-mile race on the Aqueduct main track.

If the track is off, that may steer some horseplayers away from Solar Flare, who ran his worst Beyer, an 81, in finishing a distant third as the heavy favorite in a restricted stakes race at Delaware Park Sept. 6 over a sloppy track.

Since Solar Flare is by Salt Lake, I'm willing to give him another try if he catches a wet track. He has a 394 Tomlinson rating for wet tracks, and according to Bloodstock Research Statistics, offspring of Salt Lake win in the mud at an above-average 18 percent clip.

Solar Flare rebounded from his loss at Delaware with an allowance win over a fast track at the Meadowlands Oct. 27, a race that should set him up well for the Stuyvesant Handicap.