05/26/2005 11:00PM

Seven fillies dare to face Melhor Ainda

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Bill Straus
Melhor Ainda, winning the Appalachian last out, will be a heavy favorite in Sunday's Boiling Springs at Monmouth.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Undefeated and unchallenged, Melhor Ainda looms a standout favorite in the Grade 3, $150,000 Boiling Springs Stakes on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

A 1 1/16-mile race, the Boiling Springs drew eight entries.

A rising star in the 3-year-old filly turf division, Melhor Ainda has won by at least 3 1/2 lengths in each of her three starts and has flashed a brilliant burst of acceleration that quickly and decisively settled the outcome.

In her lone start this season, she won the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland.

Trained by Bobby Frankel, Melhor Ainda appears ready for more, based on a brilliant five-furlong turf work in 58.60 seconds at Belmont on May 22.

"She is definitely ready," Frankel said.

John Velazquez will be aboard for Melhor Ainda's first graded stakes appearance.

Frankel said he mulled two options, the Boiling Springs and the Grade 3, $100,000 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont on June 5, but chose the Boiling Springs because of the higher purse and the weights.

carries high weight of 120 pounds in the Boiling Springs, a maximum of only four pounds more than any of her rivals will carry. The gap would be eight pounds in the Sands Point.

Many of the Monmouth-based trainers were rooting for Melhor Ainda to remain in New York.

"They say the Frankel filly is a monster," said Terri Pompay, who sends out Ruby Martini. "If you get a chance to get black type on a filly, you have to take a shot."

John Hennig, who will run Cool Spell, said he knew this would be a tough assignment.

"We really weren't looking for Bobby Frankel's horse, but we knew he was coming," Hennig said.

is the logical second choice, if she runs. She already owns a graded victory, the Grade 3 Miesque at Hollywood Park last November, and ran second to Melhor Ainda last time out in the Appalachian. She has been training here at Monmouth in the Todd Pletcher barn.

"It's not 100 percent certain she's going to run," said assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta. "There are other options."

should attract betting support for her turf debut. She rallied to finish second most recently in the Grade 3 La Troienne Stakes going 7 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs.

"We've been wanting to try the grass," Hennig said of Cool Spell, who trained on the turf over the winter at Payson Park in Florida. "I think it will be conducive to her style."