01/17/2004 1:00AM

She's talented but unpredictable


A year and a half ago, Adopted Daughter won her career debut at Keeneland, running 4 1/2 furlongs in 52 seconds and smashing a field of precocious 2-year-olds. It's more than slightly plausible that this filly will breathe a sigh of relief when she returns to a dirt sprint in Monday's featured ninth race at Fair Grounds.

The last time she raced, Adopted Daughter competed in a two-turn turf race and she was a fish out of water. Adopted Daughter has plenty of pace, but no big late kick, and has always seemed like a classic American main-track runner. She is by Elusive Quality, a turf miler himself, but a sire of brilliant young dirt horses, and surely there was a reason trainer Ronny Werner selected Adopted Daughter as one of the horses he would try in a Keeneland spring 2-year-old race for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Another such horse was Badge of Silver, who is gearing up at Fair Grounds for his 2004 debut. Adopted Daughter plays in an entirely different league than that colt, but she may do in the Monday feature. The turf experiment may have been a failure, but in two dirt starts last fall, Adopted Daughter ran well enough to be a factor while facing horses similar to the group she faces Monday, a closely matched field of eight fillies and mares racing six furlongs. The problem with Adopted Daughter lies in predicting what you are going to get. She has been to the sidelines so often that developing form patterns are difficult to discern.

More reliable is Cashmere Miss, an Illinois-bred filly who made 12 starts last season and finished worse than third in just three of them. Cashmere Miss, who resides in the barn of new Fair Grounds hall of fame member Spanky Broussard, ventured out of statebred company twice in her last four starts, winning one of those races and finishing a close second in the other. Also, a strong, regular work pattern ought to mitigate concern about Cashmere Miss's 10-week layoff.

Run Sarah Run, another contender, has good recent form. Crow Jane does not, but she has flashed stakes-level sprint talent on the occasions when she trots out her best race.

Cabo Sunrise, Roxaedit, Spring Rush, and Miss Mary Apples complete the field.