11/23/2001 1:00AM

Three juveniles with star potential

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Futurities, perhaps more than any other kind of race, are the stuff that dreams are made of. Nominations must be made far in advance (sometimes even before the foal is born), and then the race may become a

2-year-old runner's ultimate quest.

The Pennsylvania Futurity, a race for Pennsylvania-breds that had its inaugural running in 1977, has a proud history, having been contested by the likes of eventual Grade 1 winner With Anticipation, and multiple stakes winners Power by Far and B Flat Major, to name just a few.

Never has the Futurity had a better field, however, than it did for this year's running, on Nov. 17 at Philadelphia Park. Only a short neck separated the top three finishers at the wire, and all three - Oswayo, Pal's Partner and Volley Ball - have the earmarks of serious talent.

Oswayo, who rallied from off the pace to nab Pal's Partner by a nose, campaigns for owner Tom McClay and breeder Todd Beattie, the duo that has enjoyed remarkable success this season with five-time stakes winner Beau's Surprise, a 3-year-old Pa.-bred.

Oswayo, by Norquestor out of the Topsider mare Casanna, was bred by longtime Pennsylvania horseman Truman C. Welling (although Mr. and Mrs. James B. Moseley are currently listed as the breeder of record; a correction has been submitted to The Jockey Club). Welling sold Oswayo for $5,000 at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale to Florida-based pinhookers Bryan and Holly Rice.

McClay is a newcomer to the horse business, having bought his first runner in April 2000, and he freely admits to relying on Beattie in all aspects of the game. When Beattie, who happens to be Holly Rice's brother, urged McClay to accept the Rices' $75,000 asking price for Oswayo early this season, McClay did not hesitate. "Todd [Beattie] and the Rices have never steered me wrong," said McClay.

Oswayo won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at first asking on Sept. 3 at Philadelphia Park, and now has won 3 of 4 starts, with his lone defeat a second to Volley Ball in Philadelphia Park's Oct. 6 Storm Cat Stakes. The Futurity win boosted his earnings to $70,780.

The Futurity's next two finishers are no less distinguished in their brief careers. Pal's Partner (by Rakeen-My New Pal, by Saratoga Six) was coming into the Futurity off a dominating, four-length victory in the Maryland Million Nursery on Oct. 13. Owned and bred by his trainer Walter Reese's Timber Creek Farm, Pal's Partner boasts earnings of $89,390 from 3 wins in 8 career starts.

Third-place Volley Ball went into the Futurity with a perfect record of 2 wins in 2 starts, including a wire-to-wire win in the Storm Cat Stakes. Volley Ball, a son of A.P Jet-Verbal Volley, by Oh Say, was bred by Shellaine Brown and sold at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale for $115,000. He is owned in partnership by Ben Perkins Sr. and Eb Novak's New Farm and trained by Ben Perkins Jr.

Swift Case surprises juvenile fillies

The Pennsylvania Futurity's filly counterpart, known as the Blue Mountain Futurity, run Nov. 16 at Penn National, was definitely a dream come true for Margo Stratis and Karen McClure, breeders of the longshot Swift Case ($20.40).

Stratis and McClure, who live in Mt. Holly, N.J., bred Swift Case (by In Case-Swift Cut, by Cutlass) from one of the first mares they have owned. Swift Case, a $12,500 Eastern fall sales yearling, races for Earl Barnhart, a dentist in Carlisle, Pa., and is trained by Jose Martinez.