03/05/2009 12:00AM

Saarlight invades for shot at stakes


One look at the best recent Beyer Speed Figures recorded by the 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's $50,000 Wide Country Stakes at Laurel Park indicates how competitive the race came up.

Five of the nine horses entered in the seven-furlong race ran a Beyer Figure in the narrow range of 75 to 78 within their past two starts. And since the Beyer par for the stakes is an 80, it's clear any of those five fillies has a license to win.

The list of contenders includes Strut the Canary and Huge, who were heads apart as the one-two finishers in last month's Marshua; Fondant, unbeaten in two starts; and Don'tgetsuspicious, a winner of three in a row for high-percentage trainer Scott Lake.

The most intriguing filly of all, however, is a maiden who ships in from New York after making just one start.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin won last year's Wide Country with Armonk, and he will try to make it two in a row with Saarlight.

In her career debut a month ago, Saarlight came up a neck short of Daily Star going six furlongs on Aqueduct's inner track, while earning a 76 Beyer that indicates she fits well in this spot. The fifth-place finisher from that Feb. 4 race, Purrfect Bluff, returned to defeat maidens on Feb. 15 while earning a Beyer of 79.

Strut the Canary, who began her career running for a $25,000 claiming price, held off 42-1 longshot Huge by a head as the 4-5 favorite in the six-furlong Marshua. After racing at even weights last time, Strut the Canary must pick up six pounds on Saturday, which could help Huge turn the tables.

Fondant, a pure speedball, stepped up after defeating maiden claimers to beat first-level optional $50,000 claimers while improving 25 points on the Beyer scale to a 75.

Don'tgetsuspicious, claimed for $25,000 out of a maiden race three starts ago, is moving up to stakes company after two dominant wins by a combined margin of nearly eight lengths.