11/27/2002 12:00AM

Ocean Drive the proven turf talent

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The illness that postponed Ocean Drive's career over the summer has led to a perfect campaign this fall.

Initially considered a prospect for dirt racing, Ocean Drive showed less interest in that surface when she returned to training following time off.

"She wasn't working quite as well," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I put her on the turf and she woke up."

So far, the new plan has worked spectacularly. Ocean Drive is unbeaten in three starts, including two stakes. On Friday, she will start as the favorite in the $200,000 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Run over a mile on turf for 2-year-old fillies, the Miesque Stakes has drawn eight entrants, including the French import A Ma Guise; Chope Mockery and Major Idea, who were stakes-placed on turf at Santa Anita last month; and Tangle, who won her career debut in Ireland last month.

Ocean Drive drew post 7 and will be ridden by John Velazquez.

Following a maiden win at Saratoga in early September, she returned to win the Salem County Stakes at The Meadowlands and the Green River Stakes at Keeneland. The Keeneland race impressed Pletcher.

"It was a powerful performance," he said. "She won it convincingly. It was a bit of a chewed-up course, but she handled it."

Ocean Drive is proven against stakes fillies on turf, while some other fillies in the Miesque are trying the surface after disappointing races on the main track.

Atlantic Ocean won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies in September, but was unplaced in the Alcibiades Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Heart ofa Champion won an allowance race on turf at Belmont Park in September, but was sixth in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes on the main track on Oct. 6.

A Ma Guise has been a candidate for the Miesque Stakes since she joined trainer Laura de Seroux's stable last month. In France, A Ma Guise made two starts, finishing third in a maiden race to Kiss and Fly and returning to win an allowance race over about seven furlongs.

In early November, A Ma Guise worked alongside Mushroom Countess, who made her U.S. debut last Sunday with a convincing win in a maiden race.

"I'm sure she's dead fit," de Seroux said of A Ma Guise. "She's kind of a hickory-tough filly with a good brain. You can place her anywhere. She is not the typical filly that needs to be covered up. It's a good time to take a shot."