04/14/2004 12:00AM

'Marina' drops from Grade 2 into Charon


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Marina de Chavon, overmatched against Grade 2 company in her first two starts of the year, should find the competition much more to her liking when she takes on six rivals in Friday's $50,000 Charon Stakes.

To kick off her 3-year-old campaign, Marina de Chavon finished fifth after forcing the pace in the Davona Dale Stakes and came in a distant fourth behind Last Song and Society Selection in the Bonnie Miss. Marina de Chavon is the only stakes winner in the Charon field, having won Calder's Brave Raj Stakes via the disqualification of Ride Her Out last summer.

Marina de Chavon has changed barns since the Bonnie Miss and is now trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., who will also saddle Special Report in the Charon. Marina de Chavon turns back to the distance of arguably the most impressive performance of her career, an 11 1/2-length maiden victory at Calder on Aug. 24.

Special Report is an improving filly who comes off a second-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile OBS Fillies Championship at Ocala on March 15. She raced with blinkers on for the first time in that race and, along with Marina de Chavon, figures to be coming on strong down the stretch. Special Report and Marina de Chavon are not coupled in the wagering.

Fall Fashion, like the Plesa pair, returns to a sprint off a steady diet of longer races. She will be making her local debut for trainer Graham Motion, having begun the campaign with an allowance victory at Laurel before a trip to Tampa Bay Downs, where she was second in the Suncoast Stakes and fifth in the Florida Oaks. Both of those races were captured by Ender's Sister.

Intrueflight may prove the one to catch if she repeats her career debut, an easy 7 3/4-length victory against high-priced maiden claiming competition. In her only other start, Intrueflight finished a tiring fifth in the OBS Sprint.

Gulf of Gdansk also exits the OBS Sprint, where she finished eighth after flashing brief speed. She was an impressive first-level allowance winner here earlier in the meet.

Built Up wins allowance off nine days' rest

Built Up, winless since capturing Calder's Groomstick Handicap on Aug. 16, showed a hint of his old form when he outgamed Twilight Groom to capture Wednesday's $46,000 allowance feature. Built Up was returning on just nine days' rest off a third-place finish in the Sprint Championship Handicap on Florida Day at Tampa Bay.

Well spotted just off a contested pace under jockey Sebastian Madrid, Built Up appeared to briefly relinquish the advantage to the 7-5 Twilight Road between calls at midstretch before reasserting himself.

Royal Lad, a multiple stakes winner in his own right, finished a tiring third in his second start following a 15-month layoff. Summer Note, winner of the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes here during the winter of 2000, finished fourth after being forced to steady for much of the run down the backstretch of the six-furlong dash.

Storm Flag retired; to be bred to Red Bullet

Trainer Richard Root reports that Storm Flag, a multiple-stakes-winning filly, has been retired and will be bred to Red Bullet this season.

Storm Flag was plagued by foot problems throughout her career but won four of her eight starts, including Calder's Toga Toga Stakes. She was also second behind Ebony Breeze in the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes.

One of the fastest fillies seen in this area in many years, Storm Flag regularly posted fractions of just over 21 and 44 seconds, and was credited with a half-mile split of 43.85 en route to her victory in the Toga Toga.

"She was the fastest filly I've ever trained, that's for sure," Root said.