08/26/2002 11:00PM

Juvenile class steps up

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LAS VEGAS - The Hopeful and Spinaway Stakes highlight the Labor Day weekend, and some impressive pedigrees can be found among the 2-year-old contenders.

The Hopeful has been a barometer of greatness. A Who's Who of the racing world has won the Hopeful, including Man o' War, Bimelech, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, Nashua, Hail to Reason, Jaipur, Bold Lad, Buckpasser, Secretariat, Foolish Pleasure, Affirmed, Gulch, Summer Squall, Dehere, Hennessy, Favorite Trick, and Came Home, who won the Pacific Classic last weekend.

While many have conceded this year's Hopeful to Zavata, the race will actually be quite competitive, and the results are far from conclusive.

Zavata has been sensational and comes off an easy victory in the Saratoga Special. A son of a long-time speed influence, Phone Trick, he comes from an equally proficient female family. His second dam is a half-sister to stakes winners She's Tops (the dam of Dixie Union) and Early Colony. This is the immediate family of the legendary broodmare Fall Aspen. Zavata has an edge in experience over some rivals, but they are a classy bunch and could provide some fireworks.

There's no telling how good Sky Mesa may be. Impressive winner of his debut, Sky Mesa won like a colt with a big future. By young sire Pulpit, he is out of stakes winner Caress, a full sister to stakes winners Bernstein and Country Cat and a half-sister to the dam of Wiseman's Ferry. Sky Mesa, a half-brother to Monthir, comes from the family of Buckpasser.

Roaring Fever, winner of his only race, is by Storm Cat and is a full brother to Raging Fever, and Stormin' Fever. This female line produced Geri, Sacahuista, and Shuvee.

Pretty Wild is by Wild Again out of Alabama Stakes winner Pretty Discreet, and with Wild Again, Private Account, Believe It, and Tom Rolfe as the male influences in his pedigree, he should be even more effective at 3.

Rights Reserved, winner of Woodbine's Colin Stakes, is by versatile sire With Approval, and comes from a Phipps female family that produced Adjudicating, Dispute, and Time for a Change. The male influences in his pedigree (With Approval, Forty Niner, and Sir Ivor) suggest turf may be his best surface.

Run Production, by Saint Ballado out of a Meadowlake mare, is bred for high speed on both sides of his pedigree and is a full brother to the very fast Bay Head King.

Risky Cat is from the first crop of Tale of the Cat, who is off to a fast start at stud, siring at least 10 winners thus far. Out of the Affirmed mare Calling Ann, he descends from Register, who won the 1955 Spinaway.

Storm Cadet is a son of New York-based stallion Storm of Angels. Storm of Angels is a son of Storm Cat from the family of El Gran Senor, Compliance, and Try My Best.

The Spinaway is the female counterpart of the Hopeful, and its roster of winners includes legendary names such as Top Flight, Myrtle Charm, Sunday Evening, Register, Alanesian, Irish Jay, Cicada, Affectionately, Moccasin, Queen of the Stage, Numbered Account, La Prevoyante, Ruffian, Flanders, and Golden Attraction.

Like the Hopeful, this year's running features an outstanding juvenile, Awesome Humor, winner of the Debutante Stakes and Adirondack Stakes. From the promising first crop of Distorted Humor, she raced only 18 days ago in the Adirondack, however, and will be facing some formidable fillies in the Spinaway.

Holiday Runner must be considered the main threat if she goes. By Meadowlake out of a Dixieland Band mare, she is precocious, winning the Three Chimneys Stakes in May, as well as the Fashion Stakes.

Appleby Gardens was so highly regarded by Todd Pletcher, she won the Shady Well Stakes at Woodbine in her very first start. By A.P. Indy, she is out of Larkwhistle, who won the 1966 Shady Well.

Stellar, by first-crop sire Grand Slam, is a half-sister to top 3-year-old miler, Gygistar. This female family produced champion sprinter Eillo.

Vasquez lacks the experience of many fillies in this race but has star potential written all over. By another exciting freshman sire Coronado's Quest, she is bred to excel at longer distances.

Forever Partners is bred to sprint and win early. She is by the very successful mid-Atlantic sire Not for Love, a full brother to champion 2-year-old Rhythm.

Hope for Love has a pedigree loaded with speed influences. By Fortunate Prospect, she is out of the Valid Appeal mare Amavalidhope, a daughter of multiple stakes winner Amalie (Bold and Brave).

A daughter of Devil's Bag, Just Call Me Angel may be best on turf. Out of a Seeking the Gold mare, she has additional turf influences Vice Regent and Al Hattab.

Midnight Cry is by second-crop sire Smart Strike, and descends from the influential Tartan broodmare Arachne.

Miss Mary Apples has a 2-year-old pedigree, being by a speed influence (Clever Trick) out of another speed influence (Holy Bull). Second in the Schuylerville Stakes, her third dam is a full sister to Affirmed.