02/08/2007 12:00AM

Total's skill at two turns just one question


NEW ORLEANS - The deep and talent-packed field of 3-year-old fillies entered in Saturday's Grade 3 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds seems certain to produce at least one prospect for the important spring stakes to come, including the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 10. All of the top contenders, though, have questions they must answer.

Will Total show the same ability going around two turns that she has demonstrated in sprints? Will Get Ready Bertie continue to improve as the distances increase?

Will Appealing Zophie overcome her apparent distance limitations? Will High Heels run as well at this level as she did winning an Oaklawn allowance route in her last start?

Total has generated considerable buzz this meet with her overpowering victories in an entry-level allowance the first week of the meet and in the Letellier Memorial on New Year's Day.

Trainer Al Stall knew Total was something special when she won her maiden at Keeneland last October.

"Her race at Keeneland, she did everything so perfectly, so professionally, and showed us a little turn of foot," he said. "Until that race we thought she was a nice filly, but then we started dreaming a little bit. When you run a horse on the Polytrack you always have to say to yourself, 'How will the horse perform on a regular dirt track,' and in her first allowance race I thought she showed a nice turn of foot also."

So far Total, a daughter of Forest Wildcat out of a Cox's Ridge mare, has been impressive in sprints, but the 1 1/16-mile Silverbulletday will be her first start around two turns.

"I think she'll do it," said Stall. "Her pedigree suggests she'll be good at middle distances. She's got a wonderful mind and a great attitude. If she can translate her athleticism and her speed around two turns we might have some fun."

Get Ready Bertie, an imposing daughter of More Than Ready, is getting better and better. She put it all together winning the one-mile Tiffany Lass by two lengths here in mid-January and is the 9-5 morning-line favorite Saturday. She looks like she wants as much distance as she can get.

"I don't think she has any distance limitations," said trainer Steve Flint. "Mentally it took her a little longer to develop than most horses. She's a big filly anyway. She's an ominous presence when you look at her.

"I would love to win, but I don't know if she should be the favorite. Steve Asmussen has a very impressive filly in there."

The Asmussen-trained Appealing Zophie is the class of the field off her fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but she has yet to win around two turns.

"Is she as good at a mile and a sixteenth?" Asmussen asked rhetorically. "Right now, it looks like no. Are we going to the [Kentucky] Oaks, or toward the Test? This should help us sort that out."

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh