03/25/2004 1:00AM

Mile may favor 'Happy Together' over main rival

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Saturday's Mt. St. Helens Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile offers an intriguing matchup between Quiz the Maid, the 7 1/4-length winner of the six-furlong Ms Stakes on Feb. 7, and So Happy Together, who was 4 1/2 lengths best in the one-mile Mary Goldblatt Stakes for Oregon-bred fillies on March 6.

So Happy Together, a half-sister to six-time local stakes winner Slews Onry Won, would appear to have many advantages. While Quiz the Maid will be stretching out to a mile for the first time and is coming off a seven-week layoff, So Happy Together now has three route races under her girth, including a maiden victory at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles. So Happy Together demonstrated her affinity for the local oval in the Goldblatt, and she will be coming back in three weeks, which trainer Nick Lowe considers to be ideal.

"It means I don't have to train her too hard between races," Lowe said. "She came here from Southern California, which means she was dead fit when she got here. I didn't do much with her before the Mary Goldblatt, and I'm planning on just galloping her into this one. It's nice when they are fit to begin with and you get to race them regularly. It's easy to keep them sharp and happy on that kind of schedule."

Trainer Jim Fergason hasn't had the luxury of regular racing with Quiz the Maid, a half-sister to $264,000 earner Icksnay. As a Washington-bred, Quiz the Maid was not eligible to run in the Goldblatt, and Fergason elected not to run her against males in the 1 1/16-mile Preview Stakes on March 13.

"I would have liked to get another race into her, but I really don't mind training her up to this race," he said. "She is the kind of filly who gets a lot out of her works, so I don't think fitness will be an issue. She was off for five weeks before the Ms, and I only worked her once."

Fergason has worked Quiz the Maid four times since her last race, including a strong five-furlong move in 1:02 last Sunday.

"I think she is ready," he said. "The two turns will be something new for her, but I have felt all along that she will go long. She has the genes for it."

Others to consider, too

The competition runs much deeper than the top two in the Mt. St. Helens. Ms Lady Palace, who outdueled Belle Fourche before hanging on for second in the Goldblatt, figures to get an easier lead with Belle Fourche skipping Saturday's stakes. And Kya Jo, who came off an illness to finish third in the Goldblatt, should be stronger after three more weeks of good health.

At least one newcomer to the stakes ranks could be a factor as well. Byanoz Rose, a daughter of Baquero and the Mr. Leader mare Cargosita, will be stepping up after defeating maiden special weight rivals by almost five lengths at six furlongs in her debut on March 13. Dr. Ryland Harwood, who bred, owns, and trains Byanoz Rose, is being sky-high on his filly.

"She's got one start and one win, and that's not good for keeping your feet on the ground," he said. "Really, I've liked her all along. She is a big filly who covers a lot of ground, and she is bred to be a nice horse. I don't think she'll have a problem getting a mile."

Byanoz Rose's dam, Cargosita, was a confirmed router. She won 4 of 13 route races while going winless in 11 sprint tries in a career that netted more than $74,000 in earnings.

"A friend of mine bought her as a broodmare prospect in California, and I bought her from him," said Harwood.

Calling Cargosita "the unluckiest mare I've ever had," Harwood recounted that the mare's first foal had equine protozoal myelitis, a debilitating neurological disease, and that "her second had a club foot, and her third had three leg operations before she was six months old.

"This is her fourth foal, and so far she hasn't had any problems," he said. "I'm hoping she will make up for the others."

Retirement for real this time

Trainer Don Clary said that Salish Shaman has been retired for the third and final time after running last in an allowance sprint here on March 6.

Salish Shaman, a Washington-bred son of Apalachee, was regarded as one of the nation's top 3-year-old sprinters in 1999, when he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 111 winning the Harry Hensen Stakes at Hollywood Park. He was sidelined by a broken shoulder after that race, then broke his other shoulder when attempting a comeback in 2002. He trained well for his second comeback attempt, but exited his March 6 outing with some soreness.

"The horse really loves to be at the track, so we thought we should give him one more chance," said Clary. "It was worth a try, but it didn't work out. He just couldn't stand up physically."