07/24/2002 11:00PM

If it stays on grass, Bay Street's the gal


MIAMI - Bay Street Gal has always been a very good dirt horse. But since the tail end of her 4-year-old campaign she has turned into a stakes-caliber turf mare.

Trainer Enrique Alonso is hoping he will be able to get Bay Street Gal back on the grass for the first time in three months Saturday as the likely favorite in the $75,000 Aspidistra Handicap.

As with any turf stakes carded at Calder during the summer rainy season there is always a question of whether the race will actually be decided on the grass. As a result, the one-mile Aspidistra drew a full field of 14, including main track division leaders Coolbythepool and Castlebrook, both of whom would likely start only in the event the race was switched to the dirt due to weather conditions.

Bay Street Gal began to show her turf prowess here last December when she upset the Doubledippindebbie Handicap by nearly three lengths. She opened her 2002 campaign finishing second, beaten a head, against a strong field of money allowance horses over the Gulfstream Park grass course. Two months later, she returned on the same surface to win the One Dreamer Handicap in gate-to-wire fashion.

Bay Street Gal has failed to win in five subsequent starts since the One Dreamer, the last four of those outings coming over Calder's main track. In her most recent appearance she finished a tiring third behind Coolbythepool as the 6-5 favorite in the Georgia on My Mind Handicap.

Bay Street Gal figures to have her hands full during the early running of the Aspidistra with both Rocky North and Pageant Baby expected to show good early speed stretching out off recent sprint starts. A fast pace could play into the hands of Banderia, one of four horses trainer Marty Wolfson has entered for the Aspidistra along with Coolbythepool, Bail Money, and Cee Knows Evil.

Banderia is a versatile sort who figures to start whether the Aspidistra goes on turf or dirt. She comes off a last-to-first victory over the main track in the My Own True Love Handicap. Earlier in the meet she won a second-level allowance race using similar tactics on the turf.

Coolbythepool would likely be the tepid favorite if the Aspidistra moves to the main track. She won two of her last three starts, the Georgia on My Mind and the Nancy's Glitter Handicap.

Bail Money is also a late running threat who has not started since finishing fourth in the Calder Breeders' Cup Handicap on May 27.

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