03/08/2002 12:00AM

Spanish Glitter live even if pace hot


HOT SPRINGS, Ark.- Spanish Glitter was dazzling in her last two starts at Oaklawn Park, winning an allowance race and the $50,000 American Beauty by a combined

11 lengths, accomplishments that make her appear invincible in Sunday's $50,000 Spring Fever Stakes.

But is she?

Maybe not. Spanish Glitter has controlled the pace in both of her local wins, but on Sunday will face a quality front-runner in Powder, who like Spanish Glitter, is undefeated in two starts at Oaklawn.

Also, the winter storm that hit the Midwest last weekend forced Spanish Glitter to miss a few days of training at her Churchill Downs Trackside training center base in Louisville, Ky.

And even though weight does not mean as much sprinting as going a route, Spanish Glitter will carry eight more pounds than each of her rivals Sunday.

Despite the obstacles, Spanish Glitter's dominance this meet has scared off most of the competition for the Spring Fever. The 5 1/2-furlong race drew a field of five, while only last month, eight fillies and mares lined up for the American Beauty.

"I was hoping that Spanish Glitter wouldn't show, but she is," said leading trainer Cole Norman, whose Spring Fever starter, Southern Tour, has been runner-up to Spanish Glitter in both of her starts this meet at Oaklawn.

The connections of Spanish Glitter said that if the pace is hot Sunday, their filly can adjust. "She can come from off the pace," said Jack Deakins, assistant to trainer Bernie Flint. "If you look at her races at Arlington, she never was on the lead."

Last year at Arlington, Spanish Glitter - who has won 11 of 20 career starts and $417,600 - used a stalking style to win both the $50,000 Miss Oceana and the $50,000 Silver Maiden.

As for the missed training, shortening up in distance from the six-furlong American Beauty should benefit Spanish Glitter, Deakins said.

And Deakins added correctly that Spanish Glitter thrives at Oaklawn, which means a lot. "It means everything," he said. "She likes this racetrack, and she loves Hot Springs. She's happier here than anywhere."

James Lopez retains the mount on Spanish Glitter, while Terry Thompson will ride Rodeo Fan, who figures to be the prime beneficiary if a duel develops between Spanish Glitter and Powder. "We'll be the closer," said Don Von Hemel, who trains Rodeo Fan.

In her last start, Rodeo Fan finished third in a six-furlong allowance Feb. 15, in her first race since September. She won 6 of 11 races in 2001.

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