05/31/2002 11:00PM

The perfect distance


MIAMI - If Monday's $35,000 Cool Air Handicap at Calder was carded at six furlongs, or even 5 1/2 furlongs, there might be reason to believe the speedy Flying Birdie was vulnerable. But with the Cool Air scheduled to go five furlongs on the turf, even a late change in venue due to rain shouldn't keep Flying Birdie from defending her title in a race she won by 4 1/2 lengths over the main track last summer.

Flying Birdie has been unbeatable in south Florida whenever owner-trainer Happy Alter has been able to get a five-furlong race to fill for the filly he claimed for $57,500 during the winter of 2001. A daughter of Birdonthewire, Flying Birdie is perfect in two local tries on grass and 4 for 4 when sent five furlongs on dirt. Her only career setback at the distance came two weeks ago when she finished a tiring seventh after chasing gate-to-wire winner Merry Princess in The Very One Stakes over Pimlico's turf course.

Unless the trip to Maryland has taken its toll, Flying Birdie should win her second consecutive Cool Air. Abel Castellano Jr. will be aboard Flying Birdie for the first time.

Bay Street Gal figures to have a say in the outcome of the Cool Air whether the race is run on turf or dirt, while the connections of Vague Memory and Fly Me Crazy are both looking for the overnight handicap to be switched to the main track.

Bay Street Gal turns back to a sprint off a steady diet of longer races. A multiple stakes winner on grass, Bay Street Gal is also most accomplished on the main track, a point she proved with a second-place finish behind Coolbythepool in the Nancy's Glitter Handicap on May 11.

Neither Vague Memory nor Fly Me Crazy has won on grass but both currently rate at the top of the filly and mare sprint division on dirt. In their previous meeting Fly Me Crazy benefited from a perfect trip to outfinish the wide-running Vague Memory by a head in the 6 1/2-furlong Vivace Stakes.

True Love's Secret by a nose

True Love's Secret ($11.20) displayed both his versatility and gameness when he outfinished the pacesetting Uncle Rocco and Handsome Smile to post a nose victory in Saturday's co-featured Linear Handicap.

The Linear was originally scheduled for the turf but was switched to the main track due to overnight rain. True Love's Secret is trained by Ross "Rudy" Wolfendale and was ridden to victory by Hector Torres.