04/07/2003 11:00PM

My Boston Gal at crossroads


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The maiden victory that My Boston Gal posted at Keeneland last October was of the easiest variety imaginable, regardless of what the mere 2 3/4-length margin may suggest.

News of her career debut spread so quickly that, before anyone knew it, My Boston Gal had bloodstock agents coming out of the woodwork. Her status was enhanced exponentially by two subsequent victories at Churchill Downs, including a 3 1/4-length win in the Golden Rod Stakes, and she headed to Florida for the winter unbeaten in three starts.

Unfortunately for trainer Carl Nafzger and the four-way partnership that owns the filly, something went awry on the way to the Hall of Fame: My Boston Gal raced twice and lost twice at Gulfstream Park to begin her 3-year-old campaign.

Now, with her confidence quite possibly damaged and her reputation most definitely tarnished, My Boston Gal returns to the scene of her spectacular maiden score as just one of a handful of contenders in what appears to be an evenly matched renewal of the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland. For the top finishers in the Grade 2 Beaumont, the race could serve as a springboard to the May 2 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill.

Nafzger and his longtime assistant trainer, Ian Wilkes, firmly believe My Boston Gal will gain a healthy measure of redemption by running a big race in the Beaumont.

"The best thing about her is how good she's been feeling since she got back here a few weeks ago," Wilkes said Tuesday morning at Churchill. "Her last race" - a runner-up finish behind Ivanavinalot in the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream - "was like her first race back this year."

Before the Bonnie Miss, My Boston Gal had finished last in the Davona Dale, a race Nafzger has dismissed because the filly essentially gave up after being discouraged down the backstretch.

If My Boston Gal once again is unable to recapture her 2-year-old form, then the Beaumont winner could come from just about anywhere. No fewer than four of her eight opponents - Adopted Daughter, Elegant Designer, Bird Town, and Midnight Cry - are returning following stakes wins.

The Beaumont is run at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet, making it a demanding one-turn race sufficient to serve as an Oaks sharpener. It goes as the eighth of nine races on an excellent Thursday racing card.