12/07/2002 1:00AM

Pokey pace ideal for 'Mom'


MIAMI - Wander Mom, who had been narrowly beaten on several occasions over the past two seasons in her quest for a graded stakes victory, finally got the job done when she outlasted Strawberry Blonde and eight other older fillies and mares in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap at Calder.

The My Charmer was one of four stakes races, each worth $100,000, on Saturday's Grand Slam I program at Calder.

Wander Mom benefited from the lack of speed in the My Charmer and set a leisurely pace of 25.02 seconds and 49.71 under jockey Eiba Coa, who won five races on the card and three of the day's four stakes. The slow fractions left her with enough in reserve to fend off several challenges through the stretch, the stiffest of which came from Strawberry Blonde, who finished full of run on the extreme outside to just miss by a head.

Babae, the 121-pound highweight and 2-1 favorite, raced within striking distance but lacked the necessary closing response, finishing third, a half-length behind Strawberry Blonde.

Wander Mom ($20), who finished third in the 2001 My Charmer, completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.43 over a firm course.

"When I saw the first quarter went in 25 and Eibar was sitting on a lot of horse I felt pretty good," said Eddie Plesa Jr., who trains Wander Mom for owner-breeder Jaime Carrion.

"We didn't go into the race planning for her to be on the lead but Eibar is such an excellent judge of pace and everything just fit into place today.

"This filly has been half a notch below graded stakes horses and hasn't been particularly lucky this season," he said.

Plesa said he would talk with Carrion and Coa before making a decision on whether to try Wander Mom at 1 1/2 miles in the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap here Dec. 28.