02/15/2005 1:00AM

Summerly serves notice of her class

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Louis Hodges Jr.
Summerly wins the Silverbulletday, going 1 1/16 miles more than .80 seconds faster than it took males in the Risen Star.

NEW ORLEANS - When the dust settled after Saturday's stakes races at Fair Grounds, the picture heading into the Grade 2, $600,000 Louisiana Derby and Grade 2, $300,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, both scheduled for March 12, finally began to come into focus.

There is no doubt that the best 3-year-old at Fair Grounds on Saturday was Summerly, who won the Grade 3 Silverbulletday without turning a hair. Summerly toyed with her field, running the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:43.70, much faster than it took Scipion to cover the same distance in the Risen Star, which went in 1:44.54.

"We'll try to prepare her for the Fair Grounds Oaks," said the characteristically cautious trainer Steve Asmussen, who has a barnful of good female runners, none more impressive than Summerly, a daughter of Summer Squall.

"When I asked her at the quarter pole, she gave me a lot of run," said jockey Donnie Meche. "She kept getting faster with every jump."

Summerly has a worthy rival in Eyes on Eddy, the strong runner-up in the Silverbulletday, who ran a faster time than the Risen Star males as well.

These two fillies are likely to meet again in the Fair Grounds Oaks, but Eyes on Eddy may well be running for second money once again. She made a bold move toward the lead turning for home in the Silverbulletday, but Summerly just ran away from her through the stretch.

"When I asked her at the three-eighths pole, she gave me some run," said James Graham, who rode Eyes on Eddy. "But I don't think I would have caught the winner. I think my filly is learning how to run, and she is getting better each race."

Eyes on Eddy deserves another shot at Summerly, based on her dramatic improvement off her fourth-place finish in the Tiffany Lass on Jan. 15. She was found to have a severe infection after that race, a condition that was cleared up by antibiotics.

The Silverbulletday's third-place finisher, Enduring Will, did not exhibit her customary closing kick and may have been short in what was only her second start since October. But she will have to make up a lot of ground to turn the tables on her rivals in the Oaks. The Louisiana-bred The Beter Man Can turned in an even effort to finish fourth, and appears to be overmatched against this caliber of open company.

The race's pacesetter, the West Coast-based Cee's Irish, was no match for Summerly's combination of speed and acceleration and will not return for a rematch.

Scipion shows late power

Scipion won the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes without registering a particularly impressive time, but the manner of his victory was eye-opening. A strapping son of A.P. Indy, he lived up to his regal pedigree with an explosive stretch run that carried him past the entire field in the final three-eighths of a mile.

"He relaxed for me really nice around the first turn, but a little too much," said jockey Gary Stevens, who thought he had no chance at the top of the stretch. "He lost a lot of ground around the turn, had to make up a lot of ground, and had something in reserve. When he hit the lead, he pulled himself up a little bit. He's a colt with a lot of potential."

Trainer Patrick Biancone brought Scipion up to the race carefully, feeling that the long Fair Grounds stretch would fit his come-from-behind style well.

"He is a latecomer horse," Biancone said. "It's a horse that can go a mile and a half, or a mile and a quarter, but you cannot rush him."

Biancone told Stevens before the race that he would be happy finishing fourth or fifth.

Stevens, who was riding the colt in a race for the first time, was elated.

"I worked him three times and was very impressed with what I've seen from him in the mornings," said Stevens. "He should only improve."

Biancone plans to bring Scipion back to Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby, where he is likely to see at least a couple of familiar rivals. Real Dandy lived up to trainer Steve Asmussen's faith that the horse is his best chance to win the Louisiana Derby by closing well to finish second in the Risen Star. He will only improve off the performance and may be able to turn the tables on Scipion.

The race's third-place finisher, Storm Surge, tracked the pace and led briefly but was no match for the winner and lost the place by a neck. He appeared to give it his best effort, which suggests he could be in tough for the rematch. But he is consistently game and a better pace scenario in the Louisiana Derby may work to his advantage. Robby Albarado, who has ridden him in all but one of his nine starts, doesn't think he has gotten to the bottom of Storm Surge yet.

"It was a good hard race," said Albarado. "It should set him up for the next one."

Wanderin Boy should be back

Wanderin Boy zipped along on the front end to win the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap easily over the favored Pollard's Vision on Saturday, but Wanderin Boy was getting an eight-pound break in the weights from Pollard's Vision, who carried 121 pounds, so their potential rematch in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on March 12 should be a bell-ringer.

Alumni Hall, third in the Mineshaft, is also being pointed to the New Orleans 'Cap. His trainer, Neil Howard, has brought him along gradually and could have him at his peak for the biggest assignment. Others who ran in the Mineshaft and plan to return for the New Orleans included Gigawatt and Colonial Colony.