07/09/2001 12:00AM

Meadow Gem filly with future


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Meadow Gem, along with Highland Mood one of two unbeaten 3-year-old fillies trained by Bob Tiller, should be heavily favored to notch her third win in Wednesday's Woodbine feature.

The six-furlong dash for $62,500 optional claimers has lured five other fillies and mares: Healing Knowledge, A.J. Ruckus, Ending Well, Slewarama, and Bucquista.

Meadow Gem dueled through fractions of 21.40 seconds and 44.80 on a speed-favoring track when she debuted in a five-furlong maiden special May 31. She opened up a two-length cushion at the eighth pole, before cruising home by 4 1/2 lengths in 57.20 seconds, which earned her a 92 Beyer Figure.

Meadow Gem's encore, in a six-furlong allowance June 16, was even more impressive. She set rapid fractions once again while under some pressure, and pulled away in the final furlong to prevail by 3 1/4 lengths over Dreams Go Bye. Her time of 1:10.20 was good for a 96 Beyer.

Tiller said some of the usual "baby" problems helped keep Meadow Gem away from the races as a 2-year-old.

"She had [sore] shins and a little hock infection," Tiller recalled. "I had to send her home three times, and I finally just gave up on her for the year. I didn't want to push her, because I thought she had the potential to be a really good filly."

Tiller pointed out that Meadow Gem, who drew an outside post in both of her starts, must break from the 1-hole on Wednesday while facing older rivals.

"Breaking from the inside will be a challenge for her," Tiller said. "She'll have to try and do it nice and easy. She worked awesome the other day. She went [five furlongs] in 58.20."

Tiller purchased Meadow Gem for $82,000 from an Ocala 2-year-old in training sale for himself and a host of partners. He said one of the reasons he fancied her so much was because she's out of a half-sister to the millionaire sprinter Kelly Kip.

"She looks like a little stud horse," he said, "but she has really good nerves. She's a good filly."

David Clark has the mount on Meadow Gem.

Slewarama has had a little breather since she finished a length back in third in a seven-furlong dash at this level June 9. She's based at Fort Erie with trainer Donald MacRae, who claimed her from Tiller for $32,000 last summer and has won three races with her.

Constant Montpellier retains the mount on Slewarama, who is owned by Robert Saviola.