05/21/2003 11:00PM

Stakes winners not way to play


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Although more than half of the 3-year-old fillies entered in the $150,000 Stonerside at Lone Star Park on Saturday have already won at least one stakes, the most intriguing starters appear to be three fillies who have not: Real Bear, Miss Bridget Jones, and Eternal Cup.

The Stonerside, to be run over seven furlongs, drew 11 fillies, six of whom are stakes winners: Letithappencaptain, Valid Pulpit, Lady Mallory, Fabulous Brush, Souris, and Scottish Heritage.

But it's the starters with something to prove who could prove toughest to beat.

Real Bear, who is out of the Grade 1-winning mare Top Corsage, stepped into stakes company for the first time last out and finished fourth of six after encountering traffic trouble in the Grade 3, $100,000 La Troienne at Churchill Downs on May 1.

"I felt like she ran a good race," said Ronny Werner, who trains Real Bear for Tom Durant. "She's a lightly raced filly, [but] she doesn't hardly make any mistakes. She's smart."

Real Bear, who has made only four starts, won her maiden at seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 6. She used stalk-and-pounce tactics there, which could be the case again Saturday.

"She likes to come off of it," said Werner, who has given the mount to Don Pettinger. "She likes to relax a little bit the first part and move on the end of it."

The unbeaten Miss Bridget Jones has been in both of her races early. She won her maiden on the front end at Hollywood Park, then in her last start April 19 was a wire-to-wire winner of a 6 1/2-furlong conditioned allowance at Lone Star.

She won by 6 1/4 lengths and covered the distance in a sharp 1:16.22.

"She was impressive," said Cole Norman, who trains Miss Bridget Jones for Dave Hulkewicz and Turf Express.

Norman's other starter is the uncoupled Fabulous Brush, who won the $100,000 Bassinet at River Downs for owners K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.

Eternal Cup, one of four uncoupled starters for trainer Steve Asmussen, won an entry-level allowance by 9 3/4 lengths at Lone Star on April 3, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in a blazing 1:03.79.

She dueled through fast fractions before finishing third in the $50,000 Wafare Farm on April 19. Eternal Cup broke from the rail for that race, but drew outside all of her other pace rivals for the Stonerside.

Asmussen's other starters are Valid Pulpit, a three-time stakes winner; Souris, a two-time stakes winner; and City Sleeper, who has won her last three and makes her stakes debut in the Stonerside.