10/05/2007 11:00PM

Stallion Stakes favorites get major works

EmailMIAMI - With rain in the forecast over the weekend, Friday became the major work day for next Saturday's $1.6 million Festival of the Sun program.

Most notable among the Festival workers who breezed over a fast track after the renovation break Friday were Wise Answer and Silk Ridge, the likely favorites for the $400,000 In Reality and My Dear Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Wise Answer went five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer David Brownlee, the fastest of 26 works recorded at the distance for the day. Wise Answer will enter the 1 1/16-mile In Reality off easy wins in the seven-furlong Affirmed and the mile-and-70-yard Foolish Pleasure stakes.

Silk Ridge will seek to join Nancy's Glitter and Aclassysassylassy as the only fillies to sweep all three legs of the Stallion Stakes when she goes postward in the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl. Silk Ridge tuned up for the assignment by breezing an easy five-eighths in 1:01.40 under her regular rider, Manny Aguilar, on Friday morning for trainer Gordon Potter.

Trainer Kathleen O'Connell, who has four Stallion Series victories to her credit but has yet to win the In Reality, will saddle three colts in this year's edition of the race, including Check It Twice and Cigar Man, who officially worked six furlongs in 1:15 in company on Friday. O'Connell will also send out the undefeated Sir Dave.

Check It Twice and Cigar Man finished first and second, respectively, going a mile under maiden allowance conditions on Sept. 22, while Sir Dave overcame a very slow start to capture his debut around two turns.

"A couple of them are a little short on experience going a distance, but you only get one chance to run them in the Stallion Stakes for $400,000 and all three have shown me enough to earn a chance," said O'Connell, who is third in the trainer standings behind Kirk Ziadie and Bill White.

O'Connell has secured the services of former Calder jockey champion Cornelio Velasquez aboard Cigar Man for the In Reality. Among Velasquez's other mounts on the Festival of the Sun card will be Lady Digby for trainer Graham Motion in the Calder Oaks and Soldier's Dancer in the Grade 3 Calder Derby for Dave Vivian. Soldier's Dancer worked six furlongs in 1:15 over the main track on Saturday.

* Liberty Bull, a first-time starter by Holy Bull, returned $127.40 to show after finishing second behind Unlimited Dreams in Saturday's fourth race. Show payoffs were big all across the board in the 5 1/2-furlong maiden allowance event when a bridge-jumper bet on You're My Boy Blue, who finished sixth as the 1-2 favorite.