06/27/2002 12:00AM

Susan's Girl a step up for Alternate


In her brief career, 3-year-old filly Alternate has passed every test, barely breaking a sweat. After running third in her career debut, Alternate won her next three starts by a combined margin of more than 20 lengths.

The final exam is still almost a month away, but first Alternate must show she can step up to the next level of competition in Saturday's $175,000 Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park. The 1 1/16-mile Susan's Girl is the final local prep for the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 20.

Alternate, a daughter of Seattle Slew, has gone forward in each of her four starts. After winning her maiden by 11 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream Park in March, she stretched out to two turns at Keeneland and improved her Beyer Speed Figure from 88 to 96. In her first stakes race, Alternate cruised by 4 3/4 lengths in the Go for Wand at Delaware in early May.

Trainer H. Graham Motion said the Susan's Girl will definitely be Alternate's toughest test.

"It will be a step up and, hopefully, it will lead to the next one," said Motion, referring to the Delaware Oaks.

Motion said he has no concerns about Alternate's ability to run well off a layoff of nearly two months.

"I ran her back a little quicker than I would have liked in the Go for Wand, so I didn't mind giving her extra time now," Motion said. "She's a pretty good work horse and I think the fact she has trained on this track will help."

Clockers caught Alternate in 1:00.80 for a five-furlong workout last Sunday. Motion had it as a six-furlong breeze in 1:13.40.

Shop Till You Drop and Autumn Creek, second and third, respectively, in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico last month, should provide the keenest competition for Alternate.

Shop Till You Drop, who has a record of 3-2-0 in six starts, won a minor stakes at Laurel in March before finishing second, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in the Black-Eyed Susan, earning an 88 Beyer.

Autumn Creek ran third in the Black-Eyed Susan, her first stakes appearance, despite being carried three wide on both turns. She is eligible to improve in her second race over Delaware's track after finishing second there in an allowance three weeks ago.

Burning Roma heads Brandywine

In the co-featured $100,000 Brandywine Stakes at one mile, Burning Roma seeks his first win in almost a year against eight rivals.

Burning Roma has been picking up minor pieces of the purse against top-quality stakes horses in Florida and New York. After two good efforts to start the season, he threw in a clunker last time when he finished seventh in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 27.

This will be the first time Burning Roma has dropped into an ungraded stakes since his last victory, in July 2001 at Monmouth Park.

If Burning Roma, who prefers to run from far off the pace, fails to fire, either stretch-out sprinter He's a Knockout or one part of Mark Shuman-trained entry could be in position to steal the Brandywine on the front end.

He's a Knockout, a two-time winner at seven furlongs in Florida earlier this year, will be attempting two turns for the first time.

First Amendment and Twilight Prince, both owned by Mike Gill, are both sharp, but only one will start. First Amendment wired a small field while earning a 103 Beyer on June 17. Twilight Prince has won his last two starts, one on dirt and the other on turf, by a combined margin of nine lengths.

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