02/26/2004 12:00AM

Rice filly has star potential


HALLANDALE Beach, Fla. - Linda Rice may have a reputation as a top trainer of 2-year-olds, but she isn't too shabby with turf horses either. Double Booked and Tenski are two of the best horses Rice has trained and they made their mark on grass.

Rice may have another budding turf star in Lucifer's Stone, who rates a slight edge in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Fourteen 3-year-old fillies were entered in the nine-furlong race, but only 12 will be able to start on turf. Irish Melody will run only if the race is moved to dirt.

, a daughter of the South African champion Horse Chestnut, has won twice from five starts and comes off a very sharp entry-level allowance win over this course on Jan. 14. After racing four wide most of the way, Lucifer's Stone ducked in and forced jockey Jose Santos to steady in midstretch. Once straightened away, Lucifer's Stone kicked away from her nine rivals with only three taps of Santos's whip.

"She has moved over a lane or two in one or two other races, but it's usually on a lead switch,'' said Rice, who trains Lucifer's Stone for Team Solaris Stable. "I wanted to make sure Jose was familiar with those races so I gave him a tape of all her races.''

Lucifer's Stone breaks from the rail on Saturday.

Rice has been impressed with three of Lucifer's Stone's five starts. Rice said Lucifer's Stone had "a very interesting, troubled trip'' when second in her debut at Saratoga. After racing too close to the pace when fourth in her second start, Lucifer's Stone impressed Rice with a sharp burst of speed from off the pace in her maiden win. Of course, Rice loved the last race, Lucifer's Stone first start in 80 days.

"Frankly, I think she's coming into this race better than the last one,'' said Rice, whose only concern is the potential for soft turf.

Competition runs deep in this race. Bobby Use, who won the Tropical Oaks on New Year's Day, finished one length ahead of Lucifer's Stone when those two were second and third in the slowly run Miss Grillo at Belmont last fall. Vous defeated Honey Ryder by a head in the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes last November at Calder and Honey Ryder won her 3-year-old debut here on Feb. 6 as a prep for this.

Jerry Bailey took off Oaks runner-up Cold Wynnter to ride the Michael Dickinson maiden winner Dynamia, who needs a scratch to run. Last Waltz, who was third in the Tropical Oaks, returned to win a second-level allowance here Feb. 9.