08/30/2001 12:00AM

Honest Deceiver faces unbeaten invaders


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - A hodgepodge of eight 2-year-old fillies collide Saturday in the $75,000 Top Flight Stakes at Arlington. Among the favorites will be one filly who trains in Ohio and another who has made both of her starts at Emerald Downs in Washington.

But before dismissing the Top Flight as insignificant, think back just a year, when She's a Devil Due won this race, then won the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

She's a Devil Due's trainer, Ken McPeek, has another filly for this year's Top Flight, Don't Ruffle Me. She won her maiden by more than 12 lengths here Aug. 4, but beat only a field of $50,000 maiden claimers in an ordinary time. Bettors may give more respect to Desert Sage, who ships in from Thistledown; Strong Credentials, the Washington stakes winner; and the local filly Honest Deceiver.

Trainer Elliott Walden considered running Honest Deceiver, a full sister to $1 million earner Yes It's True, in the Bassinet Stakes at River Downs rather than the Top Flight but elected to keep her at Arlington, where she trains and has won both her starts. Honest Deceiver won her maiden by a length on July 29, then won an overnight stakes prep for the Top Flight by more than three lengths on Aug. 12.

"I thought she had a nice little turn of foot at the quarter pole last time," said assistant trainer Todd Graves. "She ran a different kind of race than when she broke her maiden and was still kind of green."

Desert Sage and Strong Credentials also are unbeaten in two starts. Desert Sage, a Salt Lake filly owned by Helen Andrews, won by five lengths over a sloppy track when she made her debut June 22 at Thistledown. Trainer Anne Mitchell, who has held the filly in high regard since last winter, vanned her to Arlington in late July, and she easily won an allowance race that may have been stronger than Honest Deceiver's overnight stakes race. Ray Sibille has a return call on Desert Sage, who has drawn the rail and may use her speed to control the pace in the Top Flight.

More mysterious is the form of Strong Credentials, who has been training here with Dick Lundy for about a month. She is owned by Jerre Paxton, for whom Lundy has won two races at the meet, and was sent to Chicago after winning a minor stakes July 8 at Emerald Downs. "She acts really professional in the morning," Lundy said.

Of the others, maiden winner Glenbriar Girl would appear to have the best chance at an upset. Emeraldforajudge, Vicki Vallencourt, and Just Scarlet complete the field.