10/08/2007 11:00PM

Silk Ridge poised to sweep series division

EmailMIAMI - Silk Ridge will take center stage on Saturday's $1.6 million Festival of the Sun program as she attempts to become only the third filly to sweep her division in the 26-year history of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Silk Ridge figures to be the odds-on favorite to add the $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes to her previous stallion series wins in the Desert Vixen and Susan's Girl stakes. For good measure, the daughter of Eltish also dominated open company when making her two-turn debut in the mile-and-70-yard Brave Raj Stakes on Sept. 22.

A big effort by Silk Ridge in the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl could also earn her a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She will break from post 4 under regular rider Manny Aguilar in the My Dear Girl, which drew a field of nine 2-year-old fillies, including Asi Asi and Calico Bay, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, in the Brave Raj.

Wise Answer also figures to be a heavy favorite to add Saturday's $400,000 In Reality Stakes to his easy wins in the Foolish Pleasure and Affirmed stakes. Like Silk Ridge, Wise Answer proved he could stay two turns when he registered an easy 4 3/4-length triumph in the mile-and-70-yard Foolish Pleasure despite having to overcome a difficult outside post. Wise Answer drew post 2 in a field of nine juvenile colts and geldings entered Monday for the In Reality. Before winning the Affirmed, Wise Answer was second to Big City Man in the Dr. Fager, the first leg of the series for his division.

Despite winning the Foolish Pleasure and Affirmed with Ray Fuentes aboard, trainer David Brownlee has made a jockey switch for the In Reality, giving the call to Belmont Park's leading rider, Eibar Coa. Coa, a seven-time Calder and Tropical at Calder riding champion, has picked up mounts in seven of the eight races on Saturday's card.

As expected, trainer Kathleen O'Connell entered three 2-year-olds for the In Reality - Sir Dave, Cigar Man, and Check It Twice, all of whom have already shown the ability to handle a distance of ground. New York shippers Inner Light and Big Al, both maidens, also will contest the event along with stakes winner Honey Honey Honey and Affirmed runner-up Hey Byrn.

Despite attracting nominations from a number of northern-based horsemen, the $200,000 Calder Oaks and $200,000 Calder Derby each lured only one outsider. Trainer Graham Motion will ship Lady Digby from Maryland as the likely favorite for the Oaks, while Bill Mott brings Got the Last Laugh in to carry the high weight of 122 pounds in the Grade 3 Calder Derby.

Yelt skips Birdonthewire Stakes

The winningest 2-year-old on the grounds will not compete on Saturday's Festival of the Sun card. Yelt registered his fifth consecutive victory Sunday, easily defeating an overmatched field of starter-allowance rivals going a mile. Trainer Dave Vivian said immediately after the race that he'd consider bringing the red-hot gelding back on short rest for the $90,000 Birdonthewire Stakes. However, when entries closed Monday, Yelt was not among the 10 juveniles entered for the 5 1/2-furlong dash.

Vivian claimed Yelt, a son of Eltish, for $25,000 out of his maiden win July 8, and he has yet to be seriously tested in four subsequent starts since changing barns.

"I was looking for a horse to claim this summer, and I decided to take a chance on him because he'd been running okay even though he was vanning up from Ocala on the morning of his races," Vivian recalled. "He hasn't really beaten anything yet but at least he proved he could go two turns with this last win."

Gulfstream officials visit Calder

Gulfstream Park president Bill Murphy, director of racing Bernie Hettel, and racing secretary Bill Couch were on the grounds at Calder during training hours Monday visiting the barns of locally based horsemen. Calder trainers play a big part in filling the entries at Gulfstream each winter, and the three officials are hoping to solicit even more participation from their crosstown neighbors during the 2008 session, which begins Jan. 3.

Couch also reminded trainers seeking stall space at either Gulfstream or Palm Meadows during the 2008 meet that stall applications are due Saturday.