09/10/2006 11:00PM

Stella's Posada speedy enough to beat these


POMONA, Calif. - Stella's Posada was a sacrificial pacesetter last month at Del Mar, where he set swift fractions before finishing last as a 42-1 longshot in a Grade 2.

Wednesday at Fairplex Park, Stella's Posada figures to carry his speed all the way to the wire as the favorite in the $65,000 Beau Brummel Stakes for 2-year-olds.

A field of 10 entered the 6 1/2-furlong Beau Brummel, though one key entrant will scratch. Trainer Doug O'Neill said Diamond Dave, who would have been favored, would be turned out with an unspecified injury.

O'Neill still has the likely chalk in Stella's Posada, and Wednesday it is his turn to shine. Stella's Posada entered the Grade 2 Best Pal on Aug. 13 at Del Mar as a rabbit for closer Great Hunter. Stella's Posada raced the opening half-mile in a quick 45.28 seconds and then cracked, while Great Hunter rallied to get second.

Stella's Posada will be facing other front-runners Wednesday, but, O'Neill said, "He's a handy horse, and if he's not on the lead we'll go to plan B." Stella's Posada has won 2 of his 5 races, and his romping performance in winning a starter allowance one back would be good enough. J. Paul Reddam and O'Neill's brother, Dennis O'Neill, own Stella's Posada. Tyler Baze will ride.

Spark of Dubai is the main threat, in his first start since a highly rated maiden-claiming win July 20 at Del Mar, where he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 79. Trained by Juan Garcia, he returns with a string of recent works. David Flores, the all-time leading stakes rider at Fairplex, is named to ride.

The Beau Brummel includes an interesting shipper whose lone speed figure suggests he is in tough. Ashpass won his only start May 18 at Prairie Meadows with a Beyer Figure of 32, then was purchased privately and transferred to trainer Ted H. West.

Two slow recent works by Ashpass should not be misinterpreted, West said: "When he worked by himself, he only puts out as much as you ask him to." He hopes the colt's Aug. 17 work at Del Mar (59.20 seconds for five furlongs, second-fastest of the day) is the barometer. "He jumped up and worked huge in company," West said.

Ashpass, a son of promising young sire Pikepass, may be the type of horse who turns it up in competition. Martin Pedroza will ride Ashpass.

Jeff Mullins trains Boise shipper Bitter Phil, who probably is in tough in his first start in Southern California.