02/10/2005 12:00AM

Summerly gives it another go

The Beter Man Can, winning the filly division of the Louisiana Futurity, goes for her third straight win Saturday.

NEW ORLEANS - Summerly won a maiden race at Keeneland by 14 lengths, an entry-level Fair Grounds allowance by almost 10, and on Saturday it is time to see if Summerly can translate her obvious ability into a stakes victory.

will be favored to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Silverbulletday; she has the raw talent to run on to the Fair Grounds Oaks and points beyond, and at the end of that line lies the Kentucky Oaks.

Eight rivals stand in Summerly's way, including the one-two finishers in the Jan. 15 Tiffany Lass Stakes here, The Beter Man Can and Enduring Will; the California shipper Cee's Irish, a two-time stakes winner; and Private Gift, who jumps from a maiden sprint win into a graded stakes route.

Only Summerly, though, won her last start with true brilliance. In her first race of the season, on Jan. 17, Summerly pressed a soft route pace, went clear on the second turn, and then really got down to business. She drew out to win by 9 3/4 lengths, running a fast final quarter-mile while being asked for very little by her rider, Donnie Meche. "I'm really happy we were able to get that nonwinners-of-two into her before this," said trainer Steve Asmussen.

By Summer Squall out of the fast racemare Here I Go, Summerly was purchased for $410,000 at a 2-year-old auction last April, partly on the recommendation of Dr. Dave Lambert, a pioneer in the science of equine biomechanics. Lambert performs analyses on prospective purchases, from heart measurements to an intricately detailed, breath-by-breath charting of a horse's performance during exercise. But while Lambert sifted through the finer points of Summerly's potential, her essential nature was more obvious.

"If you saw her in the paddock, you'd say you could see she was a route horse," said Asmussen. "It's her. It's who she is."

Asmussen started Summerly off in a Saratoga sprint, but she had a troubled trip, was beaten a mile, and returned to Kentucky to begin again. She made her comeback at Keeneland, cruising to a 14-length score in her route debut, but Asmussen said many of her opponents were wiped out by a scrum going into the first turn.

"Her race might not have been as good as it looked," Asmussen said.

Back seven weeks later, in the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill, Summerly was no match for the high-class filly Runway Model, checking in third, beaten almost five lengths. But Asmussen said he believes Summerly has progressed since then. "The Golden Rod was basically her third race, and I think she was giving a ton to Runway Model," he said.

There is no such formidable rival in the Silverbulletday, and Summerly figures to get an ideal trip - forwardly placed in a slow-paced race - whether she makes the lead from post 9 or winds up with a target in front of her.

To her inside is Cee's Irish, who won listed route stakes in California - one on turf, the other on dirt - in her last two starts. To Summerly's outside is another promising filly, Private Gift, who broke through Jan. 13 with a convincing maiden win. Trained by Neil Howard, Private Gift has an excellent pedigree and plenty of upside.