08/08/2001 11:00PM

'Sparkling' is turf tested


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Sparkling Number wasn't supposed to run in the five-furlong Anderson Fowler against 3-year-old colts on the turf July 22, but when her planned allowance race came off the turf, she did. Although she finished third, the race showed how tough she will be when she faces fillies in Saturday's $50,000 Candy Eclair Stakes, run at five furlongs on the turf for 3-year-old fillies.

In the Anderson Fowler, Sparkling Number chased the impressive Rideouts Patton, and was in the clear for second, but was just caught on the wire by Rock. In her previous starts on the Monmouth turf, she captured the Ocean Hotel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and finished second in a one-mile allowance. She is by far the most seasoned turf veteran heading into the Candy Eclair, making all seven of her career starts on the grass. She will be taking on many fillies on Saturday who have either never started on turf or have started just a few times on the surface.

"The Anderson Fowler was Plan B for her," said Samantha Randazzo, assistant trainer to Linda Rice at Monmouth. "I thought she performed very well, and she has been doing great since the race."

Sparkling Number will have Jose Ferrer aboard.

Caty's Quest and Stormy Pick have shown tremendous dirt ability in the past, and Saturday's race will be an experiment on the turf.

Stormy Pick, trained by Ben Perkins Jr., won the Grade 3 Sorority here last summer and then was victorious in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. She won the Dearly Precious Stakes here July 21, raising her record at Monmouth to four wins in five starts. If she can convert her early speed on the dirt to the turf, few will be able to catch her. Eibar Coa gets the return call on Stormy Pick, who was supplemented to the race.

Caty's Quest, although she has not started or worked out on the turf, trained on the grass in Virginia for a year and a half before coming to the racetrack as a 2-year-old, said trainer J. Willard Thompson. Caty's Quest was beaten a neck for second in the Dearly Precious in her last start. Roberto Alvarado will be aboard for the first time.

"This is as good a chance as any to try her on the grass," Thompson said. "I really like that she has improved with every start this meet."

Belleek, Carsonality, Distinct, Summer Shenanigans, Always on the Go, Glamour Tour, and American Fire complete the field. Rippling Return is entered for dirt only.