03/29/2005 1:00AM

Jerkens filly out to upend Wend


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - For the second consecutive day Thursday, trainer Bill Mott figures to have the one to beat in the feature at Gulfstream Park, when he sends out as a heavy favorite in a $35,000 allowance on turf. But trainer Allen Jerkens isn't exactly conceding.

Jerkens will counter in Thursday's 1 1/16-mile feature with Savage Beauty, a 4-year-old daughter of Joyeux Danseur who returned from a five-month layoff to finish a game fourth in a similar race on March 19. Savage Beauty led throughout before succumbing in late stretch.

Jerkens said he usually doesn't like to see his horses on the lead in turf races.

"It's hard to go wire to wire on the grass," said Jerkens. "My filly runs well from on or off the pace, and I think Bill's horse has a lot of speed too, so perhaps we won't be on the lead this time. I gave her a little extra time when we got down here because she had some foot problems, but I was very pleased with her first start, and I'm hoping she can run even better on Thursday. She'll have to if she's going to beat Bill's filly."

Wend is perfect in two starts on grass, winning her maiden by two lengths at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 2, then crushing entry-level allowance opposition by 8 1/4 widening lengths here six weeks later. A daughter of Pulpit out of the Topsider mare Thread, Wend won both races on the lead.

A field of nine older fillies and mares is entered to run. Along with Wend and Savage Beauty, the field includes Spiritual Drift, Bluespeed-whitelite, Bonaire, Phil's Pill, Minge Cove, Lady Prantlack, and Top Hill.

Minge Cove has not started since finishing sixth in Saratoga's Grade 2 Lake Placid Handicap on Aug. 23, but has trained well for her return. A daughter of the Brazilian-bred sire Sandpit, Minge Cove rallied to win the Via Borghese Stakes over the old Gulfstream grass course last winter.

Spiritual Drift steps up off a late-running 1 1/4-length victory against $50,000 claiming rivals last month, and has now won 3 of 7 starts since being claimed for $40,000 here last winter by trainer Peter Walder.

Bonaire makes his local debut for trainer Barclay Tagg after racing on the West Coast with trainer Neil Drysdale. Bonaire will be stretching out beyond a mile for the first time in his career.