10/20/2004 11:00PM

Spotlight standout in Oaks

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MIAMI - If there is one standout in the eight stakes races on Saturday's Festival of the Sun program at Calder, it's Spotlight, who holds a decided edge over her 11 rivals in the $200,000 Calder Oaks.

ships to south Florida off a second-place finish behind Ticker Tape in Arlington Park's Grade 3 Pucker Up Handicap. Ticker Tape returned off that race to win the Grade1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last weekend at Keeneland.

"I didn't think I could beat Ticker Tape going into the race," said Christophe Clement, who trains Spotlight for the Green Hills Farm. "My filly didn't have the best post and she lost ground into the stretch, but she was second-best in the race no matter what happened."

The Pucker Up was Spotlight's first loss since she came to the U.S. and was transferred to Clement's barn earlier this summer. A 3-year-old daughter of Dr Fong, Spotlight was an easy two-length winner in a second-level allowance at Belmont Park on July 23 then returned to earn a 100 Beyer Speed Figure as the 3 1/2-length winner of Saratoga's Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes one month later. Both those races were decided over less than firm turf courses.

"She might prefer a little softer turf, but I'm not really sure," said Clement. "She is a very consistent filly, although a little anxious, which is why I sent her down there Monday to get accustomed to the surroundings and school in the paddock."

Spotlight will have the advantage of reuniting with jockey Jerry Bailey, who was aboard the filly for both victories in New York.

Vous, who proved no match for Spotlight in the Lake Placid, will return to the scene of her last victory, a come-from-behind head decision in the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes here on Nov. 29.

Adobe Gold is the undisputed leader of the local 3-year-old filly division on dirt but will be making only her second start on grass. She is bred for the surface, foaled by the multiple turf stakes-winning mare Urus.

"She got stopped pretty good and probably should have won the first time on the grass, and I think ultimately she might turn out to be a better horse on turf than dirt," said trainer Marty Wolfson.

Marina de Chavon proved a game winner of her grass debut earlier this month under third-level allowance conditions but had the misfortune of drawing post 12 for the Oaks.

"I'm not sure whether I'm even going to run her from out there," said Eddie Plesa Jr., who took over Marina de Chavon's training during the spring. "It's a tall task taking on a filly like Spotlight and we'll be coming back in just 13 days, which is a little quicker than I'd like, especially since she had such a hard race in her last start."

R Obsession, Coquinerie, and Shorey Village, who finished one-two-three in the Judy's Red Shoes Stakes on Sept. 11, will all meet again in the Oaks.