09/26/2003 11:00PM

So Much More out-Beyers foes

Email

If a filly such as Awesome Humor, Smok'n Frolic, or You showed up at Mountaineer Race Track for a stakes race against locally based horses, any one of them would be an odds-on favorite.

The same can be said for So Much More, a Kentucky-based filly who has been competitive this summer facing Awesome Humor, Smok'n Frolic, and You in graded stakes events.

So Much More, trained by Niall O'Callaghan, is clearly the horse to beat in Tuesday night's $75,000 Autumn Leaves Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares at Mountaineer.

So Much More is usually a front-runner. She set the pace for the first mile of the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs before finishing fourth behind You. She was also in front a long way in both the Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup and the premier event of the season at Ellis Park, the Grade 3 Gardenia Handicap.

But in her most recent start, the Grade 3 Turfway Breeders' Cup Stakes, part of Kentucky Cup Day at Turfway Park, So Much More was asked to stalk the pace. She finished evenly while coming in third, beaten six lengths by Smok'n Frolic and 2 1/2 lengths behind runner-up Awesome Humor.

In her last four starts, all in stakes, So Much More has earned Beyer Speed Figures between 90 and 98, numbers that tower over most of the competition she will face in the Autumn Leaves.

A West Coast filly, Tamarack Bay, is the other intriguing shipper in the field of 12, plus two also-eligibles. Tamarack Bay spent the spring and summer at Emerald Downs, where she had a pair of seconds and a third in three stakes.

The 4-year-old Tamarack Bay usually comes from far back, so she will need a fast pace and a clean trip from post 10 to display her best run. In her last start a month ago, the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff, Tamarack Bay rallied from eighth to finish second, beaten two lengths by Infernal McGoon. Tamarack Bay is 0 for 6 this season, however, and would need to improve upon her last Beyer of 88 to beat So Much More.

A wet track could enhance the chances of a pair of horses who ran well in the mud earlier this season at Mountaineer. Salzurita won the Summer Finale on Labor Day with a 97 Beyer. Forty Marinesca, sixth in the Summer Finale, was a good second with a 91 Beyer in the Firecracker Handicap on July 4.