12/28/2006 12:00AM

Spectacular Malibu seeks third Laurel win


A filly who is unbeaten in two starts locally and a gelding who improved dramatically when stretched out beyond six furlongs for the first time appear formidable in the season-ending championship races for Maryland-bred 2-year-olds Saturday at Laurel Park.

Spectacular Malibu, a decisive winner of the Maryland Million Lassie in October and second in the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct last time out, heads a field of eight for the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship, which goes as race 8 on a nine-race live card.

Digger, a 9 1/2-length winner going 1 1/8 miles against maidens two weeks ago, owns by far the best Beyer Speed Figure in a six-horse field of colts and geldings for the Maryland Juvenile Championship.

Both stakes are worth $75,000 and will be contested around one turn at a mile.

Spectacular Malibu, locally based with trainer Mike Trombetta, defeated 13 opponents in her career debut and came back 17 days later to post a 3 3/4-length victory in the seven-furlong Maryland Million Lassie. She ran well going a mile in the Tempted, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Successful Outlook, a filly who came back to finish third in the Grade 2 Demoiselle.

There are several fillies capable of upsetting Spectacular Malibu with a small move forward, most notably Paying Off, Feels So Good, and Expected Pleasures.

Expected Pleasures, the runner-up to Spectacular Malibu in the Oct. 14 Lassie, is returning to the main track after an unsuccessful one-race experiment on turf.

Paying Off nosed out Feels So Good in a first-level allowance on Nov. 18. Feels So Good came out of that race to dead heat for second in a sprint three weeks ago.

In the Juvenile, Digger has proven to be a smart claim for owner William Wise and trainer Phil Schoenthal. Taken for $25,000 out of his second start, Digger finished a troubled second against straight maidens in his first start for his new connections, then romped going nine furlongs in his most recent race. He improved his Beyer Speed Figure 25 points, to an 88.

Barring a severe bounce while returning on relatively short rest, Digger should beat this group. His toughest rivals appear to be Roaring Lion, who has won back-to-back starts, both at a mile, and Gammy's a Star, the track's morning-line favorite at 5-2.

Gammy's a Star crushed maidens by 15 1/4 lengths in his career debut, but the Beyer came back relatively light at 65. After just missing while improving his Beyer 7 points in a first-level allowance, Gammy's a Star set the pace and tired over a yielding turf course in the Laurel Futurity. He gets a favorable jockey shift to Laurel's leading rider, Rosie Napravnik.