06/20/2002 12:00AM

Miller Lite quandary is the surface


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Leslie's Love, a turf specialist looking for her first stakes win, meets Southern Tour, a stakes winner who has never raced on turf, in the $75,000 Miller Lite at Lone Star Park on Saturday.

The five-furlong turf race for fillies and mares drew five others, including stakes winners Little Angel and Darlin Dixie.

Leslie's Love can do no wrong on turf these days. She has won the past four turf sprints she has entered, her latest coming on June 1 at Lone Star in an allowance prep for the Miller Lite.

In that race, she defeated Darlin' Dixie by three-quarters of a length. It was another half-length back in third to favored Repository, winner of the $100,000 Mamzelle, a turf sprint at Churchill Downs.

"Her last race was super good, and I think if she runs that back she'll be right there," said Connie Tassistro, who trains Leslie's Love for Donald Foret.

"This is the one we've been pointing for all summer."

Leslie's Love, to be ridden by David Guillory, is a multiple winner on dirt, but seems to be at her best on turf. "She's taken a liking to the turf, and it really has made her a much better horse," said Tassistro.

Southern Tour will try to make a successful surface switch Saturday. "She's got some pedigree for it," said Cole Norman, who trains Southern Tour for Earl Bellamy.

So far, Southern Tour has made a nice living on dirt. A winner of six races in 15 starts, she hit her best stride this spring when she won three straight six-furlong races by a combined 16 lengths. Her biggest score was a 2 1/2-length victory over Spanish Glitter in the $100,000 Carousel Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn Park.

Southern Tour, who like Leslie's Love has a tactical foot, will be ridden by Anthony Lovato.

Deirdre Panas has the mount on Little Angel, a multiple stakes winner on dirt who returns to turf Saturday. The one time she raced on the surface she was a winner, capturing a minor stakes over five furlongs in her first start back from a more than three month layoff for trainer Gilbert Ciavaglia.

Little Angel has trained well for the Miller Lite, working a bullet five furlongs on turf in 47.20 seconds June 17. She figures to have a say in the pace in the Miller Lite, while Darlin' Dixie could be coming for the leaders through the stretch. In her last start, she closed from last for second in an allowance prep. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel has given the mount to Don Pettinger.