08/17/2006 12:00AM

Teammate may speed-pop 'em


NEW YORK - Saturday's two richest stakes races happen to be for 3-year-old fillies - the $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and the $400,000 Del Mar Oaks on the turf. But Saturday isn't entirely "3-year-old filly day," as Monmouth Park offers the $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Stakes. The biggest race of the weekend, however, is on Sunday - Del Mar's signature event, the $1 million Pacific Classic.


Bushfire aside, the results of this year's important 3-year-old filly stakes have produced a different winner almost every time. Out of 20 Grade 1 and 2 3-year-old filly stakes on dirt so far this year, there have been 16 different winners. In other words, form hasn't meant a lot with this group. So I'm thinking upset, and I'm going with Teammate.

Teammate was dreadful in the Acorn three starts back off a layoff, had a troubled start when fifth in the Mother Goose, then tried middle-moving without success last out when fifth again in the CCA Oaks. But the situation in the Alabama is ripe for a much-improved effort from Teammate. Wonder Lady Anne L has speed, but doesn't want the early lead. The same goes for Adieu. Teammate could pop right to the front in this race. The last time Teammate controlled the pace, which also was the last opportunity she had to go two turns, she romped in the Bonnie Miss in an effort that was as good as any by a 3-year-old filly this year.

Ellis Park BC Turf Cup

There is a lot of early speed in here. Flying Glitter wants the lead, as does Radiant Avie. Victoire Bataille likes to mix it up early, and there are a few others who like to prompt from close range. This makes for a scenario of a strong early pace setting it up for a closer, and Machinale is the play to capitalize.

Machinale is by far the most inexperienced member of this field, with only three starts, and she has raced only once in this country. But she was well meant in her one U.S. start, in June at Hollywood Park, sent off the 8-5 favorite. Although her third-place finish in that allowance spot might appear disappointing at first glance, it was actually a creditable performance. She was severely compromised by extremely slow fractions, yet managed to gain ground in the stretch even though the field was coming home quickly. This race sets up much better for Machinale, and her new trainer, Patrick Biancone, wins at a very good clip with new additions to his barn.

Pacific Classic

Let's be real: Lava Man is going to take some beating in this race. Even though he was 3-5 last time out in the Hollywood Gold Cup, he really had no business winning after the tough trip he had. The fact that he did prevail to stretch his perfect record this year to five was a testament to his courage and ability. Moreover, the lack of meaningful other early speed in this Pacific Classic will only enhance the chances of Lava Man, who likes to be involved from the start. But for those who don't want to take a short price, and Lava Man might not be any higher than even money, Magnum is an intriguing alternative.

Magnum was beaten little more than a length when fourth behind Lava Man in the Hollywood Gold Cup, but there are reasons to believe he did not run his best race that day. Magnum contested the early pace, and even though the fractions were slow, that is not how he likes to run. He is far more effective coming from off the pace. Magnum also might have regressed off his relatively fast win in the Lone Star Park Handicap two starts back. Magnum was getting to Lava Man when beaten less than a length in the Big Cap. If Magnum rebounds with one of his faster efforts, he'll give Lava Man a run for his money at much better odds.


Saratoga: Alabama Stakes
Fillies, 3-years-old, 1 1/4 miles

Approximate post: Eastern-5:20 p.m., Central-4:20 p.m., Mountain-3:20 p.m., Pacific-2:20 p.m.; Saratoga Springs, N. Y., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 86¦

1Pine Island9788812-1
2Wonder Lady Anne L9893847-2
3Lemons Forever8581926-1
4Ex Caelis7482-30-1
7Miss Shop9493858-1
8Pyramid Love78n/an/a12-1
9Unbridled Belle65927820-1

Odds by Art Gropper

Ellis Park: Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf
Fillies and mares, 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf

Approximate post: E-5:57 p.m., C-4:57 p.m., M-3:57 p.m., P-2:57 p.m.; Henderson, Ky., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 88¦

2Flying Glitter5792864-1
3Victory Lap72817812-1
4Radiant Avie87778212-1
5Merry Me in Spring78814320-1
6Sister Star78806512-1
7Victoire Bataille9578896-1
8Praia Da Pipa83858210-1
10Cape Hope8879746-1
11Dash of Humor9081887-2
12Aristocratic Lady78787915-1

Track morning line odds


Del Mar: Pacific Classic
3 and up, 1 1/4 miles

Approximate post: E-7:43 p.m., C-6:43 p.m., M-5:43 p.m., P-4:43 p.m.; Del Mar, Calif., forecast: Sunny, 78¦

1Top This and That90888920-1
2Lava Man1091071061-1
6Perfect Drift9699946-1
7Super Frolic10899n/a10-1
8Good Reward10110210312-1

Odds by Michael Hammersly