11/14/2008 12:00AM

Holiday Girl fits familiar pattern


NEW YORK - From a stakes standpoint, it's going to be quiet from coast to coast until Thanksgiving weekend rolls around. Case in point, Saturday's stakes schedule: The richest race on the continent is the $150,000 Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine. The only two graded stakes on the schedule are the $100,000 Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct and the $100,000 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, and they are both Grade 3 races.

The headliner at Hollywood Park is the $65,000 Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes - yes, it's Audrey Skirball-Kenis Day! - while the first Saturday feature of the Fair Grounds meet is the $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes for Louisiana-breds. Have no fear. The Warrior still found races to play, so don't beam me up just yet, Scottie.

Glorious Song Stakes

Selva is a classy filly. The opponent she beat in her debut in the slop at Saratoga, Gemswick Park, came back to romp at Belmont and earn a Beyer Figure of 91. And Selva showed quality when she won the Sorority in her second and most recent start. The only reason why she was not pointed to the Breeders' Cup is that her trainer, David Carroll, believes Selva is a seven-furlong filly, at least at this stage of her career. And as Carroll noted, if you had a filly in the run-up to the Breeders' Cup who didn't want to go long, you were out of luck. There were simply no stakes opportunities available for 2-year-old filly sprinters, which explains why Selva has not raced in three months.

Selva can absolutely win this race, even if it is her first start on a synthetic racing surface. She did, after all, become familiar with one when she trained at Keeneland. It's just that I like Holiday Girl a little more.

If Holiday Girl's profile looks a bit familiar, it should. She's owned by Jeff Puglisi and trained by Steve Klesaris, who have had quite a run with similar-looking 2-year-old fillies this year. Holiday Girl crushed maidens in her one and only start at Delaware Park. So did Mani Bhavan, who came back to win the Grade 2 Adirondack and Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga in her next two starts. So did Sky Diva, who came back to romp in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont, and who was a fine third in the Breeders' Cup after being closer to a fast pace than she really had to be. Even the barn's Livin Lovin got her maiden win at Delaware in her second start, and followed with a near-miss in the Mazarine at Woodbine, and an impressive win in the Tempted at Aqueduct.

Outside of Selva, Holiday Girl meets a limited group of local opponents in this spot. And while this is also her first attempt on a synthetic track, she shouldn't be thrown by the surface switch because she trains regularly on one at Fair Hill.

Cardinal Handicap

Callwood Dancer is the morning-line favorite, and I can't argue with that. She comes off two solid seconds in stakes at Woodbine, the first finishing ahead of Forever Together, who came back to win the Grade 1 First Lady and, of course, the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and the most recent in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor ahead of Sealy Hill, who came back to finish second to Forever Together in the Breeders' Cup. It should be noted, however, that Forever Together inexplicably ran the worst turf race of her life in that finish behind Callwood Dancer, and Sealy Hill was flat unlucky in the Taylor as she was blocked in the stretch while gamely trying to rally into a very slow pace. Callwood Dancer obviously ran well in these races. But these considerations make me reluctant to take her as the favorite in this spot.

I like Lady Digby, who is fresh for a capable layoff barn, and who can win this off any of her last three efforts. She was a very good second in the strongly run Gallorette on the Preakness undercard, and followed with a decisive score over a good group in the All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes. Even her fifth in the Grade 1 Diana most recently was a good effort. Lady Digby was beaten five lengths by Forever Together, who ran one of her best races that day, and less than that by runner-up Dynaforce, who showed her quality with a win later on in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational.

Copano Stakes

This turf race is the main event at Calder, and trainer Marty Wolfson, who seems to make news only when he doesn't win because it sure feels like he wins with everything he puts on the track, is taking his best hold here with three uncoupled entrants. It's probably nuts playing against Wolfson - probably? - even if two of his entrants (Stormin Mon and Slewfoundmoney) have yet to win on the grass, and the other (Jeux de Danse) is quite possibly not good enough. But I'm going with Lydia's Love.

Lydia's Love is a vastly improved mare who has really blossomed since moving back to turf over the summer. She has won 3 of her 4 starts since, and had a legitimate excuse when she lost in a small stakes two starts back. She dropped back sharply from easy striking distance when checked hard on the rail going into the far turn, and steadied again on the rail late on the far turn. In any event, the good closing kick she showed in her two most recent wins will be an asset in a race with ample pace.