09/02/2002 12:00AM

Lassie next for surprising Souris


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The surprisingly talented 2-year-old filly Souris will move into graded stakes company later this month when she starts in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie.

Souris earned her way into the Lassie with a comfortable win here Saturday in the $75,000 Top Flight, Chicago's first stakes of the year for 2-year-olds. With only a debut win for race experience, Souris dueled for the lead while stuck down at the rail in the six-furlong Top Flight, but she always seemed comfortable with her position and when jockey Robby Albarado asked Souris for her best turning for home, she quickly ran away from her pace rival and easily held off the favored Christmas Time

"I was impressed," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Souris for owner Nelson Bunker Hunt. "I didn't expect her to be that close, but she obviously gave [Albarado] a good feel."

When Souris won her first race she paid more than $30 to win, and her sharp score over the promising filly Caucus left her connections surprised. Souris, by the lesser-known stallion Defrere, never has trained like a horse with special qualities, reserving her best for actual race situations.

"She's just an easy-going filly, but she sure gets it done in the afternoon," Asmussen said.

Now she will try to get things done at a mile, a distance Asmussen thinks Souris can handle.

"For being hooked that way, she went on pretty good late," he said. "I don't really see any of that group beating her at a mile."

Asmussen also will have a colt in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, Workerman, who finished second in the Middleground Futurity at Lone Star Park in his most recent start.

Esyoueffcee rising off sharp score

The Irish-bred import Esyoueffcee will return to stakes racing later this month after her sharp allowance score here Saturday.

Making her third start in this country, Esyoueffcee stalked favored Peace River Lady through most of Saturday's 10th race before swooping to the lead in midstretch. Esyoueffcee won going away by five lengths and galloped out powerfully around the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch of Arlington's turf course.

Esyoueffcee has enough class that she won a listed stakes last fall in England at the prestigious Newmarket meet, and James Bredin, the assistant trainer who saddled her Saturday, said Esyoueffcee is likely to start later this month in a stakes race at Kentucky Downs.

It is something of a tightrope act keeping Esyoueffcee at her best, however. She doesn't carry any extra weight and, said Bredin, "she can be pretty tough in the morning."

Esyoueffcee is owned by Martyn Burke and trains in Kentucky with David Hanley, a former English trainer who also has worked as a pinhooker and bloodstock agent, according to Bredin. Hanley has a short string of horses at the Thoroughbred Training Center outside Lexington, Ky.

Bien Sur in for a stretchout

Bien Sur will stick to allowance races for the time being, but her eight-length win in a second-level allowance Friday pointed her out as a future stakes horse.

Out of action since the Keeneland meet this spring, Bien Sur stalked a sensible pace over a racetrack that had favored speed, but she seized control of her race before the stretch call and won dominantly.

With three wins from four starts, the Texas-bred Bien Sur already has outrun her modest pedigree. Trainer Al Stall says she is unusually athletic for a horse of her large size. "Because of her size and her pedigree, you might not expect that much of her," Stall said.

Bien Sur won her first two starts at Fair Grounds but threw in a clunker this spring at Keeneland, prompting Stall to give her 60 days of rest so Bien Sur could continue developing without the stress of everyday training.

Bien Sur "looks like a total route horse," Stall said, and he plans to stretch the filly out in a third-level allowance race. If she continues progressing, Bien Sur could try stakes company this fall on Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston.

* Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes for 2-year-olds could attract as many as eight horses, Arlington officials said. The locally based Bold America and Echeverria, based in Kentucky with trainer Bob Baffert's Midwest string, top the list of possible starters.

* Runaway leading owner Frank Calabrese won six races last week, three Wednesday, two Thursday, and one Sunday. Calabrese has 37 wins at the meet, one more than his primary trainer, Wayne Catalano, who saddled five of the recent Calabrese winners to extend his lead in the trainer race over Jerry Hollendorfer.

Catalano and Calabrese have each won more races here this summer than all but three jockeys.

* Wednesday's program, somewhat depleted because of six straight days of racing through Monday, has as a nominal feature a statebred second level allowance race for fillies and mares.