07/30/2003 12:00AM

O'Neill starts yet another turf speedster


DEL MAR, Calif. - Grant Marty a Wish can continue trainer Doug O'Neill's dominance of turf sprints at Del Mar in Friday's $75,000 Daisy Cutter Handicap over five furlongs.

O'Neill won the first two five-furlong turf sprints of the meeting, scoring with FJ's Pace last week and with Maria's Mirage on Monday.

Grant Marty a Wish has excelled in turf sprints at Hollywood Park in recent months and will be favored against a full field of fillies and mares.

"She's doing unbelievably," O'Neill said. "She's one of those that is so naturally gifted with speed that we try to do a lot of maintenance gallops and try to keep her on the ground."

Grant Marty a Wish has won 6 of 10 starts and $182,798. This is her second appearance in a stakes. Last fall, she finished last of 13 in the California Cup Distaff.

This year, Grant Marty a Wish has won 3 of 4 starts, always racing near the lead. O'Neill is banking on her speed to carry her to victory. Both FJ's Pace and Maria's Mirage won from the front.

"A lot of people are talking that it will be wire-to-wire every time, but I think if you get the right pace scenario you can come from behind," O'Neill said. "I wouldn't want to be too far out. Grant Marty a Wish should be right on or near the lead."

In her last start, Grant Marty a Wish won an allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs by 1 1/4 lengths at Hollywood Park on July 9.

She will have plenty of company on the lead in the Daisy Cutter. The entry of Knoll Lake and Tulsa each won stakes from the front at Turf Paradise earlier this year; Secret Liaison has consistently shown speed; and Icantgoforthat won the Survive Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt at Santa Anita in January by leading throughout.

Secret Liaison is trying turf for the first time. Trained by Ted H. West, Secret Liaison won the Sacramento Handicap over a mile at Golden Gate Fields in 2002, but is winless in her last three starts. She has not raced since finishing fourth in the Pine Tree Lane Stakes at Santa Anita on March 26.

Secret Liaison and Roberto's Mango share high weight of 117 pounds. Roberto's Mango finished second to Knoll Lake in an allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on June 20, a loss that ended a three-race winning streak.