09/25/2007 12:00AM

Potter relives summer of '74 with Silk Ridge

EmailMIAMI - Gordon Potter trains the best 2-year-old filly in south Florida, Silk Ridge, who earned her standing by following her 8 3/4-length triumph earlier this month in the Susan's Girl Stakes with a 5 1/4-length victory last Saturday in the mile and 70-yard Brave Raj Stakes.

For Potter, 77, Silk Ridge has evoked memories of the most famous 2-year-old filly he ever trained, Hot N Nasty, who gained more notoriety for a race she lost than any of the stakes races she won during her juvenile campaign in 1974.

Hot N Nasty won three stakes at 2, including the prestigious Arlington-Washington Lassie. Yet her most memorable race that summer was Monmouth Park's Sorority Stakes and the duel she waged and eventually lost against the legendary Ruffian.

Both fillies entered the Sorority undefeated and virtually untested, with Hot N Nasty taking the race right to the much bigger and more imposing Ruffian from the outset. Entering the stretch, Hot N Nasty did something no other filly had or would ever do again against Ruffian - gain a short lead. But she succumbed to her mighty rival by two lengths inside the final sixteenth of a mile.

"I always thought I could have beat Ruffian that day if the circumstances were a little different and we'd been on the inside instead of outside," Potter recalled. "Ruffian was so big and so strong and she kind of intimidated my filly as they came into the stretch. Once she switched leads she was gone before my horse had a chance to come back at her."

Hot N Nasty and the millionaire Royal Glint were two of the many stakes winners Potter trained during the early and mid-1970s for owner Dan Lasater. Potter eventually served as farm manager for Lasater in Ocala, Fla., until the longtime owner-breeder dispersed all his holdings.

"You never know if you'll ever get horses like Hot N Nasty and Royal Glint again," said Potter. "Especially these days when I'm dealing with a limited amount of funding."

Owner Karen Keen plucked Silk Ridge out of an Ocala sale a year ago for a bargain $5,200. A daughter of Eltish, Silk Ridge has already earned more than $266,000 and figures to be favored to pick up another $240,000 if she can complete a sweep of the filly division of the Florida Stallion Stakes in the $400,000 My Dear Girl on Oct. 13.

"This last race was obviously a big test because it was her first time going two turns, although I was pretty confident she'd handle it okay," said Potter. "She relaxes nicely and has enough speed to stay out of trouble. I didn't think she'd be in front the other day."

Potter said he told jockey Manny Aguilar "to use his judgment, and he did another good job."

Potter said he will go easy on Silk Ridge in the three weeks remaining before the My Dear Girl, and admitted he has the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in the back of his mind.

"You can't help but think about the Breeders' Cup, although she'd have to run really big in the next one for us to consider bringing her back again in just two weeks," said Potter.

Mach Ride finds a work partner

Trainer Steve Standridge came to his colleague David Fawkes on Monday looking for a little company to work against his nationally ranked sprinter Mach Ride in the speedster's final prep before Saturday's Grade 1 Vosburgh Handicap.

"The only horse I had to work with him was Flying Circle," said Fawkes. "She's like Mach Ride. Both horses will benefit from company. She'd work a half in 52 if I sent her alone. So I figured the work would do them both good."

Mach Ride and Flying Circle broke off as a team at the five-furlong pole and remained together to the wire, covering the distance in 1:00.56 over a sloppy track, according to Daily Racing Form.

"I wanted to get a snappier work into my filly before her next start," said Fawkes. "I told my rider just to go with him if she could. I don't know if she could outwork him on the dirt, but I know she'd outwork him on the grass."

Flying Circle is coming off the biggest win of her career, a come-from-behind three-quarter-length decision over Unbridled Sidney in the $250,000 Distaff Turf Handicap on Aug. 11.

"I'm aiming her for the Buffalo Trace Stakes at Keeneland," said Fawkes, referring to the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint on Oct. 12.