06/23/2003 11:00PM

Looks like Solar Echo can't miss


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bad luck is the only reason Solar Echo is still eligible to the first allowance condition. Solar Echo returns Thursday in the second race at Hollywood Park, and if the 3-year-old filly ever strings together a steady campaign, there is no telling how high she might go.

Solar Echo was widely touted for her debut on Dec. 28, opening weekend of the Santa Anita winter meet. Bet to odds of 7-2, she did everything but win. Racing wide throughout, she was unable to collar the pacesetter, but finished five lengths clear of third and earned a sizzling 93 Beyer Speed Figure. Although the Beyer was good enough to win a typical maiden race, there was nothing typical about this maiden field.

Four of the runners won their next starts, but before trainer Ron McAnally could run Solar Echo again, she got sick. So much for the winter meet. McAnally started from scratch, and Solar Echo returned March 15. This time, she was hammered to 2-5 under Gary Stevens, and romped by eight lengths in 1:08.85 to earn a 94 Beyer. Then another problem.

The race was run on over a sealed, hard, wet-fast track, and Solar Echo paid the price. She came out of the race with minor filling in a leg, and McAnally had to back off again. So much for spring. Now summer has arrived, and Solar Echo returns again. A gray filly, sired by Spinning World, she returns against five rivals in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint. It is the second race on the card, Stevens is up, and she figures not to miss.

Spirit Run, however, has something Solar Echo does not - a good recent race. Spirit Run won a California-bred allowance race by two lengths May 29, and has more speed than Solar Echo. A 3-year-old filly trained by Paul Aguirre, Spirit Run's main goal this summer is the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies on July 27 at Del Mar.

Comebacker Cee's Valley Girl is the high-figure filly in the race, with a 101 Beyer, though that figure was earned in her last start in November. Drawn inside, she may be the one to catch. The rest of the field is Honest Answer, Miss New York, and La Duncan. The $48,000 allowance sprint goes as race 2.

A field of seven entered race 7, a $51,000 one-other-than allowance route that includes Le Mans and Classy Fella.