12/27/2007 12:00AM

Turf stakes draw full fields

EmailMIAMI - The entry box was overflowing Wednesday for Saturday's $100,000 Pete Axthelm and $100,000 Frances A. Genter Stakes and not simply because the two races are scheduled to be run on the turf. The Axthelm and Genter also give trainers one final chance to race 3-year-olds against their own kind before everybody turns a year older next week.

Both the Axthelm and Genter will be decided at 7 1/2 furlongs and each drew a full field of 12, plus four also-eligibles. They are two of four stakes on Saturday's Grand Slam III program, which also includes the $100,000 Chaposa Springs and Grade 3 Stage Door Betty for fillies and mares on the dirt.

The Axthelm will feature the return of Birdbirdistheword, who rose to national prominence a year ago after winning the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot. A son of Pure Prize, Birdbirdistheword failed to pan out this year at 3, finishing off the board in all three of his starts this season, including the Grade 1 Florida Derby. A versatile sort, Birdbirdistheword has already won twice on grass and has been training forwardly for his return for trainer Ken McPeek at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Allen Jerkens was looking at the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap next Friday at Gulfstream Park as an option for Sleeping Indian, who is undefeated in three starts on grass, but said the allure of running one more time against 3-year-old was the reason he went into the Axthelm. Of course, Jerkens could have second thoughts after Sleeping Indian was assigned the dreaded post 12 when the race was drawn Wednesday.

Another top contender who did not fare well at the post-position draw was Mysterious Peintre, who won his local bow in the Mel's Hope Stakes earlier this month. He'll break just inside Sleeping Indian from post 11, while making his second start since being transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson's barn during the fall.

Other big names in the Axthelm include Pleasant Strike, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Classic in June, and locals Fearless Eagle, Fair Weather Stan, and Storm in May.

Rutherienne figures to go postward as the odds-on favorite for trainer Christophe Clement in the Genter. Rutherienne shipped cross-country to capture the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks but may have been suffering from a little jet lag when she returned East to finish 10th in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Park in her last start on Sept. 8.

Clement's good friend and arch -rival Bill Mott will counter with Pitamakan, a lightly raced daughter of Danzig who exits a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland. After drawing post 12 for her previous two starts, Pitamakan begins from post 10 in the Genter. Pitamakan is at her best when able to relax on the lead.

The locals are led by Pretoria Light, Snow Cone, and Cozzi Capital. Snow Cone pulled the outside in the 12-horse lineup.

Forever Together and Change Up will share high weight of 119 pounds among the eight fillies and mares entered for the seven-furlong Chaposa Springs, while Amazing Speed and Annabill will tote 121 and 120 pounds, respectively, in the 1 1/16-mile Stage Door Betty.

* Dancing Forever ran down the embattled leaders and 8-5 co-favorites, Terrific Storm and Croton Road, to post a neck victory in the $50,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes on the turf Wednesday. Terrific Storm and Croton Road contested the pace nearly every step of the way and finished in a dead heat for second.

Eddie Castro rode Dancing Forever ($14.60) to victory for trainer Shug McGaughey.