06/09/2009 11:00PM

Speedster to attempt longer run


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Southern Fireball blazed onto the scene last month by crushing a maiden field in the fastest (50.67 seconds) 4 1/2 furlongs of the Hollywood Park spring meet. The time translated to a Beyer Speed Figure of 90, wickedly fast for a 2-year-old filly in May making her second start.


Tuesday at Hollywood, Southern Fireball will be favored to do it again in the $70,000 Cinderella Stakes for fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs. Doug O'Neill, who already has won 7 of 21 races this meet for 2-year-olds, holds both aces in the race.

Southern Fireball and Repo enter the Cinderella off smashing maiden wins for O'Neill, who believes the future is bright for Southern Fireball. But will she run farther?

"I think she will," O'Neill said. "She's got the pedigree, the body, and she relaxes."

She also has experience. Southern Fireball was a troubled third in her debut, then improved significantly second time out when she relaxed behind a hot pace, burst to the front inside the eighth pole, and won geared down.

Southern Fireball's 35.20-second bullet work Monday follows the same pattern O'Neill used last week when he worked 2-year-old colt Classical Slew three days before he won the Willard Proctor. Rafael Bejarano will ride Southern Fireball, who is by first-crop stallion Southern Image.

Repo won her debut by four lengths in 51.25, earning a Beyer Figure of 78, and is likely to be positioned in front of her stablemate early. Repo was sired by In Excess, and is expected to keep front-running maiden winner Well Deserved honest on the front end. Well Deserved defeated Southern Fireball on May 10; the Cinderella is her first start since.

Champagne d'Oro finished second in the May 10 maiden race. She now adds blinkers for her second start. Three others were entered - Nana Boo, Ridemetothemoon, and Gale Schoonover - but it is difficult to envision any of them winning.

Some wonder if Southern Fireball ran too quickly, considering it was only May. Since the 2001 spring meet, there have been 10 early-season juvenile fillies at Hollywood who earned a Beyer of 90 or higher and ran back the same season. All 10 regressed in their next start, by an average of 11 points.