10/23/2003 11:00PM

Lucifer's Stone, maybe


ELMONT, N.Y. - The key to Sunday's $75,000-added Miss Grillo Stakes may have a lot to do with figuring out which of the 2-year-old fillies can handle the footing.

The turf courses have been used sparingly the past several days. Though skies were clear and the grass was officially labeled as good on Thursday and Friday, five scheduled turf races were switched to the main track in the aftermath of a fatal breakdown in Thursday's first race, as management and riders believed the courses were uneven and unable to handle more than one race daily.

The Miss Grillo, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the inner course, wraps up the 38-day fall meet. With Daylight Savings Time over, first post reverts back to 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

Bettors who consult the Beyer Speed Figures will find them of minimal assistance, as no fewer than 10 Miss Grillo contenders have a top figure in the 70's.

The 16 entered include two Woodbine shippers - Saree, runner-up in last month's Natalma, and Faswiga, a maiden winner 17 days ago. There are six also-eligibles, with Ellieonthemarch and Sisti's Pride entered for the main track only.

If a race over the course and at the distance means anything, then Lucifer's Stone may be the one to beat. After losing her first two starts in shorter routes, Lucifer's Stone stretched out to nine furlongs on this course last time out and overwhelmed her field with a final furlong in 11.90 seconds.

Lucifer's Stone broke from post 4 in her maiden win and will go from the identical spot under Mike Luzzi.

Saree, a daughter of 1994 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Barathea, was a debut winner in Great Britain prior to her sharp second at Woodbine. She breaks from the rail with Richard Migliore.

"She trains like a really good horse," said trainer Mark Casse. "I've been breezing her with some nice older horses and she's always right there."

Taking the worst of the draw were America America, Faswiga, and Fiddlers Fancy, who begin from the three outside posts, barring any late scratches.

America America, a heavily raced filly whose 13 starts have come in Great Britain, Germany, Toronto, and Kentucky, will be making her fifth start in just over seven weeks.

Fiddlers Fancy is stuck out in post 10 with a short run to the first turn, but she had experience with outside posts in two midsummer starts. Her sire is Subordination, the nine-furlong record holder on Belmont's inner turf.