03/04/2005 12:00AM

Only two are proven in marathon


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Distance is a question for virtually all of the 13 fillies and mares entered in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 The Very One Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

The Very One is run at 1 3/8 miles over the turf course, but only two of the fillies and mares have proven effective at the distance. won last year's The Very One, but she has gone winless since and needs a top-three finish to avoid the breeding shed. Briviesca and Noble Stella won marathon races in Europe, but not against top-caliber company. Briviesca lost a six-way shake and was placed on the also-eligible list and would need a scratch to run.

The third- through eighth-place finishers behind Snowdrops and Angela's Love in the nine-furlong Suwannee River will attempt to stretch out in The Very One. Those six mares were separated by a mere 3 1/4 lengths.

closed furiously while very wide in the Suwannee River. A 5-year-old Brazilian-bred, High Court has run very consistently since coming to this country last spring. She won the Fort Monmouth Stakes in her U.S. debut and was very competitive with Ocean Drive in New York stakes last summer and fall.

The Suwannee River was her first race in nearly four months.

"We always wanted to try to stretch her out a little bit, and this might be a nice place to try it," said trainer Michael Matz, whose filly will break from post 3 under Javier Castellano. "Whether she'll go that far, I don't know. Her style would seem to tell you she would. They told us in Brazil that they wanted to try and run her that far."

Matz felt a slow pace compromised High Court in the Suwannee River. Marathon turf races such as The Very One rarely have a ton of pace.

Though Honey Ryder has yet to win beyond nine furlongs, trainer Todd Pletcher felt her third-place finish in last December's La Prevoyante at 1 1/2 miles was one of her best races. Honey Ryder finished fourth, a half-length behind High Court, in the Suwannee River.

"We felt all along that she's a lightly made filly who would improve as she got older and improve with added distance," Pletcher said.

Briviesca won three marathon races in France before coming to the U.S. last fall. She was a nonfactor in the Long Island Handicap, but ran a game second in a third-level allowance race last month. Jerry Bailey, a five-time winner of this race, has the call for Bill Mott.

Galloping Gal, Savedbythelight, and Vous are other contenders.