10/10/2007 12:00AM

Silk Ridge's main rivals hoping something different happens

EmailMIAMI - Calico Bay and Bond Princess have already faced - and been defeated three times apiece by - Silk Ridge earlier this season. So why do trainers Bill Kaplan and Tim Ritvo think things might be any different when the trio square off again in Saturday's $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes?

"If Silk Ridge runs her race, we'll probably be running for second money again," said Kaplan, whose Calico Miss finished second behind the division leader in both the Desert Vixen and Susan's Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion series and third in the Brave Raj Stakes. "But my filly has been continually improving, and hopefully we'll pick up a few lengths and the other filly will have an off day on Saturday."

Kaplan also cited some history when it comes to the Stallion Stakes in the hopes that Calico Bay might get the better of Silk Ridge in the Stallion Series finale.

"Back in 1994, Cottage Flower came into the My Dear Girl looking unbeatable," Kaplan recalled. "I had finished second behind her in the opening two divisions of the Stallion Stakes that year with Fortune Pending. But Cottage Flower wound up getting pressed on the lead by a filly called Cope Away in the My Dear Girl, and that gave Fortune Pending the opportunity she needed to turn the tables and register the upset."

Kaplan said he's hoping history might repeat itself 13 years later, although he did offer one slight caveat.

"Cottage Flower had never been two turns when she ran in the My Dear Girl in 1994," said Kaplan. "Silk Ridge has already proven she can go two turns."

Bond Princess was the favorite in each of the first two legs of this year's Stallion Stakes but finished third both times after encountering trouble at the break. She was sixth after lunging at the start in the Brave Raj.

"We've done a little gate work with her since her last race, and I'm hoping she'll have a little better luck leaving there on Saturday," said Ritvo. "You can't take anything away from Silk Ridge. She's done everything right, but there's a little more speed in this race, and maybe it will soften her up a little bit. I still think Bond Princess is a good filly and that distance will be her game, but she just hasn't had much of a chance in her last three starts."

Some shippers couldn't get here

Racing secretary Mike Anifantis put together another outstanding Festival of the Sun program, but he was frustrated by the fact that his 13-race card could have been even stronger if not for a problem several out-of-town trainers had attempting to ship horses to Florida.

"We had several horses who wanted to come here to compete in one of the eight stakes on Saturday's card but they just couldn't get a flight," Anifantis said. "Dale Romans had one he wanted to send, and Nick Canani had a 2-year-old he was hoping to ship from California - but the logistics were just impossible to deal with. Getting down to Florida right now is difficult with most of the air transports heading north for the Breeders' Cup over the next week or so.

"You always hate to lose any horse or horseman interested in coming in for one of your races, and having several additional out-of-town horses would certainly have made Saturday's card even more attractive."

Among the shippers who did enter the Festival of the Sun are the Bill Mott-trained Got the Last Laugh and Inner Light for the Calder Derby and In Reality Stakes, respectively, and the Graham Motion-trained Lady Digby for the Calder Oaks.