12/21/2005 12:00AM

Ward facing balancing act

Benoit & Associates
Arlington Oaks winner Miss Matched will likely race next in Florida.

MIAMI - Trainer John Ward, who has five stakes-caliber 3-year-old fillies under his care in south Florida, will have his work cut out keeping the group separated when all return for their 4-year-old campaigns in 2006.

Ward's band of fillies, all of whom are owned by John Oxley, includes For All We Know, winner of Keeneland's Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes in her 2005 finale; Play Ballado, who concluded her 3-year-old campaign with an easy win in Aqueduct's Miss Oceana Stakes; Grade 3 winners Miss Matched and Seek a Star; and Little Money Down, who has not started since finishing second in Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes on March 5.

Miss Matched showed she remains sharp after working five furlongs in 59.60 on Wednesday. Play Ballado drilled the same distance in 1:00.60 the previous afternoon. Both horses are among the 12 Ward has stabled at Gulfstream. He'll also have another 32 bedded down for the winter at Palm Beach Downs.

"I'm going to split them up and try to keep them from running into each other as best I can this winter, especially since the bigger races for older fillies at Gulfstream aren't until March," Ward said. "For All We Know will make her next start on Dec. 31 at Santa Anita in the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes and I also plan to send Play Ballado out West to run in a couple of Grade 1's at Santa Anita. Miss Matched and Seek a Star will stay here. Little Money Down is just about ready to come back into training, so I won't have to worry about where she'll run for a while."

Ward said he is very eager to see Miss Matched run on the grass.

"She trained wonderfully over the turf at Keeneland before we left Kentucky," Ward said of Miss Matched who won 4 of her 6 starts at 3 but has not run since finishing third in the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hoosier Park on Sept. 30.

Ward also said Seek a Star has come back well from a serious injury, which she suffered during her sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Acorn.

"She shied from a shadow and cracked some bones in her left front leg," Ward said. "We really got lucky because the way it happened it could have easily resulted in a catastrophic breakdown."

Wolfson barn also loaded

Trainer Marty Wolfson, whose barn is also loaded with stakes-caliber fillies and mares, has three of them nominated to the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap and two for the $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap. The Stage Door Betty and Chaposa Springs are two of the four stakes that make up the Grand Slam III card here on Dec. 31, along with the $100,000 Pete Axthelm and its filly counterpart, the Grade 3 $100,000 Frances Genter Stakes.

Wolfson, whose Grade 1-winning mare Pampered Princess was recently retired to stud, will choose from among Mocita, Potra Clasica, and Preach It in the 1 1/16-mile Stage Door Betty, and chose between Menifeeque and Kuanyan in the seven-furlong Chaposa Springs.

Wolfson trained Chaposa Springs, whose 12 stakes victories included the Grade 1 Ballerina and Grade 1 Test stakes at Saratoga.

The Stage Door Betty drew only 12 nominations, including the Bobby Frankel-trained Sweet Lips, who has not started since finishing sixth in Santa Anita's Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 12. The Chaposa Springs proved even less popular, closing with only 10 nominees, led by the Allen Jerkens-trained Lilah.

* Live racing will be conducted here every day until the conclusion of the meet on Jan. 2, except for on Sunday, Christmas Day. All remaining cards will consist of 12 races.