11/03/2006 1:00AM

Little separates these young fillies


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Since the Breeders' Cup began in 1984, favorites have won 12 of the 22 runnings of the Juvenile Fillies. It will be tough for that mark to swell to 13 this year - irrespective of who is the favorite, Cash Included or Dreaming of Anna.

Saturday's field is among the most wide open in the race's history, with 14 evenly matched fillies entered, led by Oak Leaf winner Cash Included, the 3-1 favorite on the track morning line, and the unbeaten Dreaming of Anna, who has been made the 5-2 choice by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper.

Others in the lineup include Appealing Zophie, winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway; Bel Air Beauty, winner of the Grade 2 Alcibiades; and Octave, who won the Grade 3 Adirondack and later dead-heated for second in the Grade 1 Matron.

Most of the entrants in the $2 million,

1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies appear of comparable ability.

To win, Cash Included, favorite or not, will have to run back to her performance in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf at Santa Anita on Sept. 30, a race in which she defeated heavily favored Point Ashley by 4 3/4 lengths.

"She'll have to bring her 'A' game again," trainer Craig Dollase said.

At issue is how she will fare over a Churchill Downs strip that is not as kind to front-runners as Santa Anita, where she won the Oak Leaf by pressing the pace and outfinishing Point Ashley.

Point Ashley, regarded by many as the leader of this division going into the Oak Leaf, is not racing in the Juvenile Fillies.

Cash Included will likely have to press a more demanding pace in the Juvenile Fillies than she did in the Oak Leaf, or rate and play more of a stalking role. Her task is not easy, even with a favorable draw in post 3.

Dollase said he believes that she is a true route horse, something that might not be said of some her opponents. She was purchased by owner Paul Reddam off a sprint victory in early September with the belief that she would improve going longer distances.

"Being by Include, we thought she'd be a slam dunk to get the distance," Dollase said.

Corey Nakatani - who teamed with Dollase to win the 1998 Sprint with Reraise, one of six winning Breeders' Cup mounts for the jockey - rides Cash Included.

The toughest filly to evaluate is Dreaming of Anna, who has followed an unconventional path to this race. After winning her debut at 4 1/2 furlongs on dirt at Arlington Park, she won a pair of turf stakes: the Tippett in course record time at Colonial Downs and the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine.

The question is whether she is as good on dirt as turf. Offspring of her sire, Rahy, are often versatile, but her winning Beyer Speed Figure from her lone dirt race was a 75, compared with figures of 90 and 95 earned on grass. The lower dirt speed figure came in her debut May 19, when she was younger and inexperienced.

Another concern is how she might react to a speed duel. Lilly Carson and Appealing Zophie are fast fillies accustomed to racing on the lead, and Dreaming of Anna is drawn on the fence, a position from which it might by hard to avoid getting involved in a lively pace.

Trainer Wayne Catalano, himself a jockey for nine years before he began training, said the post may dictate strategy for Rene Douglas aboard Dreaming of Anna.

"She's got to use her speed, so we'll display it," he said. "They'll chase us."

Those are just the kind of words that give the rest of the field hope. A hot pace could result in a meltdown, which has already happened this year in races such as the Arlington-Washington Lassie and Frizette. That would suit longshot Sutra, who capitalized by winning the Frizette under such conditions.

Further adding to the challenge of handicapping the Juvenile Fillies, six of the 14 entrants come out of the Alcibiades at Keeneland, a race contested over Polytrack, a synthetic surface.

If the form is legitimate, a filly such as Bel Air Beauty, who won the Alcibiades with a stalking trip, could prove dangerous over a Churchill Downs main track where she has trained throughout her career.