06/12/2003 11:00PM

Ocean Drive is it - if on turf


ELMONT, N.Y. - Ten 3-year-old fillies were entered to run on the grass in Sunday's $100,000-added Sands Point, a Grade 3 carded for 1 1/8 miles on Belmont Park's inner turf. Because of the bog-like conditions of the turf course and more rain in the forecast, six other fillies were entered main-track only.

On the turf, the horse to beat is Ocean Drive, a winner of four of five starts and the favorite in each of those races. In her last start April 18, Ocean Drive, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland over a yielding course.

Ocean Drive's sole loss came in the Grade 3 Miesque last November at Hollywood Park. Pletcher, who won the Sands Point in 2001 with Tweedside when the race was run on the main track, said the turf might have been a bit too firm for Ocean Drive's liking in the Miesque.

Jerry Bailey, a three-time Sands Point winner, rides Ocean Drive, who has tactical speed and drew the rail.

Ocean Drive's biggest threat looks like Gal O Gal, who is trained by Vinnie Blengs in Maryland. Gal O Gal beat older horses in her last start here on May 15 in a third-level allowance race. Gal O Gal has won six of 11 starts, including the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park Feb. 1.

"I think her last race was her best when she beat the older mares," Blengs said. "She's almost like a push-button horse, and runs her own races. I hope there is some pace because she comes out of the clouds."

Eibar Coa picks up the mount on Gal O Gal, who drew post 3.

In just four career starts, Fortuitous has shown plenty of promise. Her only poor race was when she finished last in the Grade 1 Frizette on the dirt here last October. Fortuitous was a fast-closing second in the Via Borghese Stakes at Gulfstream on April 6 in her first start of the year. Gal O Gal was third, a neck behind Fortuitous.

Yell and Fircroft are the top contenders if the Sands Point is run on the main track.

In her last start, Yell finished third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs May 2. Fircroft was second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico in the slop May 16.

In its eight runnings, the Sands Point Handicap has been won by several talented 3-year-old grass fillies, including Auntie Mame, Perfect Sting, Gaviola, and Riskaverse.