02/09/2006 1:00AM

Lawanda just looks too fast


PORTLAND, Ore. - Lawanda looms a heavy choice over four intrepid challengers in Saturday's Ms. Stakes, a six-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies with a purse of $10,000.

Lawanda, a front-running daughter of Pioneering, won the one-mile Mt. St. Helens Stakes by nine lengths in her local debut on Jan 7. Prior to that race, she finished sixth to maiden special weight runners at Emerald in June and fourth to the same kind at Golden Gate in November. She showed excellent sprint speed in her Golden Gate outing, leading through a half-mile in 45 seconds, and again figures to vie for the lead.

Lawanda is owned by Allen Floyd and trainer Jonathan Nance, who has again named Clark Jones to ride at 122 pounds.

The biggest threat to the favorite will come from Royal Snowflight, a gate-to-wire winner of the six-furlong Lassie Stakes in October. Royal Snowflight could not stretch her speed to a mile in the Mt. St. Helens, but she came back to post an impressive 7 1/2-length victory over $8,000 claimers when shortened to 5 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 22.

Should Lawanda and Royal Snowflight engage in a speed duel, the door could swing open for stretch-runners Ole's Honor and Miss Sharpy, who closed to finish one-two in a $12,500 claiming sprint here on Jan. 29.

Also to be run on Saturday's card is the six-furlong Sweetheart Handicap for older fillies and mares, which has lured three-time stakes winner Bullishdemands.