06/06/2002 11:00PM

Running Debate's win was a doozy


MIAMI, Fla. - On the surface, Running Debate's two-length victory over Forest Native in Friday's feature race might not look impressive, especially considering the undefeated juvenile went off as the prohibitive 1-2 favorite in the entry-level allowance dash.

But those who have been following the races closely here the past week, where the rail has been deep and tiring, and watched Running Debate's performance know better. That group includes her trainer, Eddie Plesa Jr.

"That race is sure a lot more impressive than it's going to look on paper," said Plesa, who trains Running Debate for the Trilogy Stable and his wife, Laurie Plesa. "When the overnight came out and I saw we drew the rail I knew we could be in trouble. She was in tight and pinned down on the worse part of the racetrack the whole trip. But when it looked like she might get beat at the head of the stretch she kicked into another gear. Her class just carried her through and allowed her to beat those horses."

Running Debate was equally impressive winning her only previous start here last month, leading throughout in a 1 3/4-length victory over Crimson And Roses with Lady Honoree a distant third. Both those fillies came back to win their next start by half a pole to further flatter Running Debate's debut.

Running Debate is a daughter of Open Forum and Miss Running Vany. Her dam was one of the top local fillies of her era and the winner of the 1989 My Dear Girl Stakes, finale of the prestigious Florida Stallion Series. And the Stallion Series is Plesa's main goal this summer for Running Debate.

"I'll probably run her in the

J J'sdream Stakes [June 29] and then the objective will be the Stallion Series," said Plesa. "Hopefully she'll be able to duplicate for us what Three Ring did in the series several years ago."

Three Ring won both the Susan's Girl and My Dear Girl Stakes in 1998 and was considered among the top 3-year-old fillies in the country the following season before meeting a tragic death at Belmont Park during the summer of 1999.

"It is amazing how similar the two fillies are to each other," said Plesa. "Running Debate is a chestnut with a big blaze face and so was Three Ring. They both had the same temperament too. Right now, if you compare their numbers, Running Debate is faster than Three Ring was at this stage of her 2-year-old campaign. But Three Ring turned out to be a once-in-a lifetime horse. If this filly turns out to be 25 percent as good as she was I'd be tickled to death."

o Friday's feature was named in honor of Buddy Hasher who is retiring after 50 years working on the racetrack. Hasher began his racing career as a jockey at Churchill Downs in 1952. He relocated to south Florida with the opening of Calder 30 years ago and over the years has served on the south Florida circuit at a valet to such riders as Hall of Famers Jerry Bailey and Earlie Fires, and most recently as tattoo technician for the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau.