02/19/2004 1:00AM

Stute filly as steady as they come


ARCADIA, Calif. - Mel Stute wanted to run Buffythecenterfold in the La Canada Series for 4-year-old fillies earlier this year at Santa Anita. But Frank Stronach, Buffythecenterfold's majority owner, insisted that she stay in sprints, Stute said.

Stute would like to run Buffythecenterfold in as many suitable races as he can find. But he says Stronach wants her to run only once a month.

While Stute and Stronach may disagree on certain aspects of her campaign, one thing is certain: Buffythecenterfold remains as effective now as she was at 2, in 2002, when she won two sprint stakes in the summer.

Buffythecenterfold runs Sunday in the $100,000 Las Flores Handicap for fillies and mares over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, where she tries for her fifth stakes win.

"She can do just about anything," Stute said.

Owned by Stronach and Allen Brian, Buffythecenterfold finished second in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap over seven furlongs Jan. 25. She dueled for the lead with Princess V, shook that one off to lead by a length at the eighth pole, but was caught by Island Fashion in the final furlong. Buffythecenterfold finished second by three-quarters of a length.

"She had the 1 post, and everything went against her," Stute said. "The horse that went with her ended up nowhere."

Other probables for the Las Flores include Annabelly, Ema Bovary, Honest Answer, Icantgoforthat, and Sarasota.

Ema Bovary is seeking her eighth consecutive win. She finished second by a nose in the Kalookan Queen Handicap on Dec. 31 but was promoted to first after Royally Chosen was demoted to second for interference.

Even though Buffythecenterfold has raced primarily in sprints, this is only her second start over six furlongs. She won the Grade 3 Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2002 and was sixth as the favorite in the Azalea Handicap at Calder last July. Overall, she has won 5 of 14 starts and $500,975.

Stute said Buffythecenterfold's springtime goal is the $250,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on March 1. A win Sunday followed by a win in the Humana would put her close to Stute's goals.

"If they leave me alone, she'll get close to $1 million," Stute said.

Olmodavor preps for Big Cap

Olmodavor, the winner of the Whirlaway Handicap at Fair Grounds on Feb. 1, worked six furlongs in 1:15.60 on Thursday, preparing for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Olmodavor was being considered for the Fair Grounds Handicap on Feb. 29, but Mandella said the extra week and the presence of a rich local race make the Big Cap more attractive.

Mandella already has the favorite for the Big Cap in Pleasantly Perfect, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic last October.

"What if the other horse did something wrong?" Mandella said, referring to Pleasantly Perfect. "This horse deserves a chance."

Big Cap hopefuls include Buddy Gil, Chinkapin, Domestic Dispute, Royal Place, Saint Buddy, Southern Image, Star Cross, and Toccet.

Intercontinental out with illness

Intercontinental, the 119-pound topweight for Saturday's $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap over a mile on turf, was not entered because of a recent bout with illness, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Frankel is represented in the Buena Vista by Personal Legend, who has placed in four stakes.

Intercontinental will be pointed for the $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf April 4. Intercontinental has yet to start in the United States. She was a minor stakes winner in France last year and placed in two graded stakes, including a third in the 1000 Guineas.

Pomeroy's return in sight

Pomeroy, the disqualified winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile last September, is close to coming back.

Trainer Patrick Biancone is targeting a March 20 return but has not decided on a race. The possibilities are the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, or the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park.

Pomeroy has won 2 of 4 starts and was second to Cuvee in the Saratoga Special last August.

Pomeroy, who won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile by a nose but was disqualified and placed third, underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from an ankle last fall.

Halfbridled has sharp work

Halfbridled, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2003, worked seven furlongs in 1:24.80 Thursday. Mandella described the workout as "the best she's done so far."

Halfbridled was held out of the Las Virgenes Stakes last Sunday for additional training. She is scheduled to make her 2004 debut in the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 13.