05/10/2006 11:00PM

Serena's Cat a terror on turf


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - One Saturday after Kentucky Derby Day, 3-year-olds once again will be in the spotlight at Churchill Downs.

Only this time, they're fillies, and they'll compete for $100,000 at five furlongs on the turf, not for $2 million at 1 1/4 miles on the dirt. These slight disparities surely will translate into roughly 145,000 fewer people in attendance, but that's not to say the Open Mind Stakes won't provide a thrill or two.

Ten fillies, several with blazing speed, have been entered in the Open Mind, which kicks off the post-Derby portion of the Churchill spring stakes schedule as the 10th of 11 Saturday races. Several horses appear worthy of favoritism, including the Bill Mott-trained Serena's Cat, a winner of her last three starts, and the uncoupled Bernie Flint duo of More Than Pretty and High Heritage.

If only for her pedigree, will attract plenty of notice here Saturday. By perhaps the world's premier sire, Storm Cat, the filly is out of the mare Serena's Tune, whose dam is the great Serena's Song. Although her first two career starts, both on dirt, resulted in defeat, Serena's Cat quickly found her niche when Mott placed her on turf, as she reeled off a maiden victory at Belmont last fall, then back-to-back allowance triumphs at Gulfstream Park over the winter. Robby Albarado has the riding call Saturday.

Both of the Flint fillies will be making their turf debuts Saturday, but both are battle-tested campaigners with six-figure bankrolls. More Than Pretty has a tractable style that could make her a legitimate danger when she breaks from the rail in a race with tons of speed, while High Heritage, a recent allowance winner at Keeneland, has a gritty style and will be ridden by the meet's leading rider, apprentice Julien Leparoux.

Two of the fringe contenders, both drawn in outside posts, are . Chuck Simon, trainer of Dramatic Style, said his filly "had a great work on the turf Tuesday, so we're in there to take a shot." Handlewoman, named for longtime New Jersey sports columnist Bill Handelman, is an Elusive Quality filly who has done little wrong so far, having finished fourth in a tough Keeneland allowance after winning at first asking at Gulfstream.

The rest of the Open Mind field is Country Diva, Brilliant Star, Fast Deal, Bratt'sstablestar, and Dirty Rush.

First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.