01/07/2005 12:00AM

Stakes draw fields worthy of richer fare


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The size of the purses does not justify the quality of the fields that will compete at Gulfstream Park in Sunday's Ft. Lauderdale and Marshua's River stakes, turf races each worth $60,000.

Both 1 1/16-mile races drew full fields of 12, and many entrants have more lucrative goals in mind this winter, including the two rich grass races on Sunshine Millions Day, Jan. 29.

One of those horses is Hopelessly Devoted, who figures to be the favorite in the Marshua's River. Hopelessly Devoted has won her last three starts, including the Calder Oaks on turf by 2 3/4 lengths on Oct. 23. The other two wins came over the main track.

"We're pointing her for the filly and mare turf race here on Sunshine Millions Day," said trainer Sandra Slivka. "She's doing well, and we're going into this race hoping to win, but we're not going to beat her up to do it with the Sunshine Millions race as our main goal."

Hopelessly Devoted will headline a stellar field that also includes the multiple stakes winners Snowdrops, Galloping Gal, Something Ventured, Marwood, Delta Princess, and Angela's Love.

Something Ventured and Snowdrops recently finished first and second in Calder's Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap. Angela's Love may prove the one to catch coming off a sparkling grass debut when she was beaten a neck by Aud after setting all the pace in Churchill Downs's Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap. Delta Princess finished fourth in this race a year ago. Galloping Gal should be finishing fastest of all.

In the Ft. Lauderdale, Timo, whose last start came in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, will be making his first start since switching to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn. Timo, who won two Grade 3 events in 2004 under the tutelage of Bill Badgett Jr., has been training well at Palm Meadows.

The competition will be led by Freefourinternet, who returns to the grass for the first time since winning Mountaineer's Labor Day Handicap. He subsequently switched to the main track and upset Perfect Drift in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup before finishing 13th and last in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Multiple stakes winner Stormy Roman, who is prepping for the Sunshine Millions Turf, and graded winners Twilight Road and Scooter Roach are among the other key contenders.