01/01/2008 1:00AM

Keep an eye on these youngsters


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Tampa Bay Downs featured the potential stars of the future last Saturday by running all 11 races for 2-year-olds. The card was highlighted by the Sandpiper and Inaugural stakes, which were punctuated by blanket finishes, game winners, and some noteworthy efforts in defeat.

The six-furlong Sandpiper for fillies turned out to be a case of some good placement and luck on the part of jockey Carlos Montalvo and Unfolding Wish, while some others in the field weren't so fortunate.

When a posse of speed rivals went out after the lead in the Sandpiper, Montalvo wisely bided his time behind that speed jam with Unfolding Wish. As many as five runners tried to get to the top through an opening half-mile of 45.36 seconds. Unfolding Wish shot up the inside turning into the stretch and grabbed a clear lead over favored Awesome Chic, who had been hung five wide battling for the lead. But the race was far from over.

Bear Lahaina, who was last early after breaking a half-step slow, swung six wide while advancing under Jerry Baird into the stretch and closed strongly through the final furlong. She was steadily getting to Unfolding Wish, and finished a half-length back with a still-game Awesome Chic another half-length back in third.

Bear Lahaina may have lost, but her future could be brighter the longer they go. She was awarded an 80 Beyer Speed Figure.

The Inaugural for males was another wild affair with four horses hitting the wire within a length of each other. Honey Honey Honey led throughout and held on to post a stunning $79.40 upset, while both Run Sully Run and Service Corps, who finished second and fourth, look as though they have a future at longer distances.

Run Sully Run (78 Beyer) caught a bad break when he was in tight and his rider was forced to check after the break then had to weave his way through traffic. Service Corps (76 Beyer) was forced to wait for room inside in the drive and was also going well at the finish in just his third career start.

The fifth race on the card may have been the best of the maiden races, with entrants from two of the top developers of young runners on the grounds finishing in a photo. Mysterious Jule, from the Lynn Scace barn, narrowly bested Lucky Fever, sent out by Joan Scott, for a neck win, earning a 62 Beyer. Dee's Rose was made the favorite in the field by virtue of some fast morning drills, but she was unlucky to bobble at the break from post 1, then rushed to contention down the backstretch. Beaten just two lengths, she and the top two all look like fillies with a future.

The two juvenile races on the turf produced runaway wins by Dismount Now and Trizelle, but a runner who finished fourth behind Trizelle, Glimmering Hope, may well turn out to be the jewel in the rough. She gained needed experience in her debut and looks like a filly with some talent.