08/28/2002 11:00PM

Souris may offer best value


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Saturday's Top Flight Stakes leads to the Arlington-Washington Lassie and then the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but if a greater association exists between the Top Flight and the Breeders' Cup, it is not apparent on form.

Among them, the six fillies entered in the $75,000 Top Flight have one stakes start and no stakes placings. But to take the Top Flight too lightly is to disregard She's a Devil Due, who two seasons ago won this race before finishing first in the Grade 2 Alcibiades and third in the Breeders' Cup.

Not that there were many accomplished horses to choose from in the local 2-year-old colony. Long winters and late springs put Chicago juvenile racing behind much of the rest of the country, and there has been only one 2-year-old filly allowance race this meet. Christmas Time, unbeaten in two starts, won that Aug. 11 race and should be favored in the six-furlong Top Flight.

Christmas Time won her debut at 4 1/2 furlongs but needed almost all the six furlongs she raced in her recent win. Several lengths back at the top of the stretch, Christmas Time ran steadily through the stretch and wore down the two fillies in front of her.

"When they turned for home I didn't think she was going to get anything," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "I'm not going to get too excited before the race, but we do have pretty good hopes for her."

Christmas Time seems professional and determined, but so far she has not shown brilliance, and at short odds Saturday she begs the search for a higher-priced alternative. That filly could be Souris, who won her only start here on Aug. 1, paying more than $30 to win, an unusually generous price for a Steve Asmussen-trained horse.

Souris, who beat the highly promising filly Caucus by 4 1/2 lengths, hadn't tipped her hand even to her trainer at the time of her debut. "We thought she was a decent filly, but that race did surprise us," Asmussen said. "My filly looked good running, but she has not dominated in works before or since."

Souris, in fact, may be the opposite of a morning glory, a horse who saves her best for when it counts most. "You look forward to seeing her race again," said Asmussen.

Ken McPeek trained She's a Devil Due and has a filly for this year's race, Fabulous Brush, a 5 1/2-length winner of an Aug. 10 Ellis Park maiden race.

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