08/29/2002 12:00AM

Raylene faces pace challenge


EDMONTON, Alberta - The province's top 2-year-old fillies will be in the spotlight at Northlands Park in Saturday's $50,000 Bird of Pay at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Raylene was outstanding in the $40,000 Princess Margaret here Aug. 2, taking the lead down the backstretch en route to a 7 1/2-length romp.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Calmar Stables and Ranch and trained by Rod Haynes, Raylene will be the favorite but will be pushed by Dowhatuthinksright, the top 2-year-old Alberta-bred filly.

In her last outing, in the $50,000 Filly Sale Stakes, Dowhatuthinksright got a clean start, and regular rider Stephan Heiler was able to get out front, which is where she likes to be.

"She prefers to be out front, and we hope to have her near the front through the first half-mile," trainer Dave Nicholson said.

"In the Princess Margaret she was in traffic and ate a lot of mud," Nicholson said, but conceded that Raylene "was just too much horse that day. She's the real deal."

After finishing fourth in the Princess Margaret, Dowhatuthinksright returned as an 8-1 shot in the Filly Sale Stakes and handled the field easily, winning by 2 1/4 lengths.

Although Nicholson admits it will not be an easy job to outrun Raylene, he pointed out that his filly has looked superb in training recently.

"Right from day one she's done everything right, and she's very mature for a 2-year-old," Nicholson said. "We just hope she comes back good here and if she runs as we anticipate, we'll point her towards the Fall Classic."