07/16/2003 11:00PM

Tough spot for Watch Out World


VALLEJO, Calif. - Trainer Armando Lage will launch phase 2 of Watch Out World's career Saturday in the $40,000-added Fairfield Stakes at the Solano County Fair. He did not pick an easy spot for the talented 3-year-old filly's return to the races.

The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Christmas Time, winner of the Emeryville Stakes on May 17 at Bay Meadows, is the one to beat in the six-furlong race, but Lage isn't afraid.

"I was surprised by the entries," he said. "I was expecting it to be a little easier, but I'm not worried. I think she'll run a good, powerful race."

Considering that Watch Out World was called a possible Grade 1 winner by Lage after she won her first two starts, perhaps he has a right to feel confident even though she will be making her first start since running fifth in the Miss California Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 18.

"I want to get that feeling back again," he said.

Watch Out World, a half-sister to Cavonnier, defeated a future stakes winner, Denali Cat, and future Grade 1 winner Elloluv in her debut. In her second start, she defeated another future stakes winner, Lucky Sabre.

But she bled and ran ninth in the California Breeders Champion Stakes and then couldn't match Denali Cat in the Miss California.

She had four races in a three-month span, and Lage backed off.

"I was disappointed," he said of her last two races. "After a couple bad races, she wasn't running to her potential. I wanted to give her time to get her head together. I want to give her her best chance to be what she can be. We brought her along nice and slow. Once she was ready, we saw this as a good spot."

The race will be tough. Watch Out World has good speed, but so, too, have Christmas Time, Sharp Miss, and Mango Escapade.

Entrymates Mango Escapade and Market Garden could prove threats.

Market Garden is a closer who won a 2-year-old stakes here last year. Mango Escapade exploded in her last start July 5 at Pleasanton, winning her maiden race by nine lengths after running third in her first two starts.

"I really thought Mango Escapade was the best horse in my barn earlier," trainer Carmela Anderson said. "Her first third, she didn't run that bad. Next time, she was a flat third. Being home last time could have helped, but she has learned from racing.

"Market Garden has been training great. I hope being on a track where she's won benefits her."