11/02/2002 1:00AM

Identical miles for stakes duo

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MIAMI - Best of the Rest, who returned from a three-month layoff to finish second behind Pay the Preacher in the Spend a Buck Handicap, and the top 3-year-old filly Cellars Shiraz topped a busy work tab Saturday morning at Calder.

Best of the Rest worked a mile in 1:44.40 for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. as he prepares for a possible rematch with Pay the Preacher in the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic, co-feature on the $1 million Florida Millions card on Nov. 16.

Pay the Preacher would have to be supplemented to the Rose at a cost of $7,500.

Cellars Shiraz, who won the Calder Oaks on the Festival of the Sun undercard, matched Best of the Rest's move later Saturday morning when she also breezed a mile in 1:44.40. Cellars Shiraz is eligible for the $200,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap on Nov. 16, although she would have to face older horses for the first time if trainer Bill Cesare elects to run her in that spot.

Among the other potential starters for the Heubeck are Castlebrook, winner of the Shocker T. Handicap on Oct. 12, Coolbythepool, and Bay Street Gal, who has been idle since finishing second in the Aspidistra Handicap on July 27.

Other notables on Saturday's tab eligible for Florida Millions stakes were Hear No Evil and stablemate Massive, who drilled five furlongs in 1:00.40 and 1:00.60, respectively, in preparation for the $150,000 Jack Price Juvenile. Tour of the Cat, who could be one of the choices in the $150,000 Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap, went a half-mile in 49.40 seconds.

Stay Forever takes stakes

Trainer Marty Wolfson scratched Coolbythepool from Saturday's $45,705 Solo Haina Handicap as expected when the race stayed on the turf. But he still had plenty of firepower in the overnight stakes, finishing first and third, respectively, with Stay Forever and Banderia.

Stay Forever continues to improve with every start. A 5-year-old homebred, Stay Forever was forced to the sidelines for 20 months due to a tendon injury at the end of her 3-year-old campaign. She has now won five of her six career starts and is unbeaten at the stakes level.

Stay Forever will likely be pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on Dec. 28.

Pembroke Palace, who gamely outlasted Banderia for second in the Solo Haina, has likely seen enough of Stay Forever. She was also second behind her in the Noble Royalty.