03/27/2003 12:00AM

Stardom beckons for 'Silver'


The sky seems the limit for Ifyouprefersilver, who has five wins in six starts, including a 9 1/4-length dismantling of seven rivals in the Chou Croute Handicap at Fair Grounds last month. A daughter of Silver Deputy, Ifyouprefersilver seeks her third consecutive stakes win Saturday in the $100,000 Lady Hallie Handicap at Hawthorne in Stickney, Ill.

Ifyouprefersilver is the highweight at 118 pounds, and will face just four opponents in the 1 1/16-mile race for older fillies and mares.

Ifyouprefersilver's raw talent was apparent in her first two starts, both victories at Fair Grounds. For her third start, Ifyouprefersilver was sent to Keeneland for a two-other-than allowance last April. Ifyouprefer-silver raced wide throughout and finished eighth, beaten 17 lengths.

After seven months on the sidelines, Ifyouprefersilver reappeared at Churchill last November and won her second allowance condition, then stretched out around two turns and captured the Winter Solstice Stakes at Sam Houston by a half-length.

Ifyouprefersilver was sent off at 5-1 in the Chou Croute. Jockey Frank Lovato sent her to the lead, and she drew off in the stretch. Ifyouprefersilver earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for the Chou Croute, a career best.

Ifyouprefersilver appears to have one rival for the early lead in the Lady Hallie, Pass the Pepper, but she has a class advantage over that opponent. Lovato is back to ride for trainer Mike Stidham.

Lakenheath, from the barn of Gene Cilio, returns to her Chicago base after winning one of three starts at Fair Grounds. Lakenheath was beaten over 15 lengths in the Chou Croute, which came on the heels of a fifth-place finish in an allowance prep for the Chou Croute. Her lone win was a half-length score in the Truly Bound Stakes in December.

Lakenheath enjoyed a career season in 2002, winning the Grade 3 Arlington Matron and finishing second in both the Gardenia at Ellis Park and Sixty Sails at Sportsman's. But she hasn't shown the same quality since a last-place finish in the Spinster at Keeneland last October and appears to be vulnerable despite getting a two-pound weight break from Ifyouprefersilver.

The other three fillies are conceding class to the top pair. Pass the Pepper makes her two-turn and stakes debut in the Lady Hallie following a third-level allowance win at Hawthorne on March 4. Curious Conundrum has not won a stakes in nearly two years, while Barney's Mistress appears to be in over her head.

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