08/20/2003 11:00PM

Weather holds key to Aspidistra Handicap


MIAMI - Hermans Honor moved to the top of the local filly and mare turf division last month with a pair of overnight stakes victories. On Saturday, she finally has the opportunity to compete for some big money in the $100,000 Aspidistra Handicap. The question is, will she get to run?

A week of steady rain has put the status of the one-mile Aspidistra in doubt, and the combination of south Florida's tumultuous summer weather and a 96-hour entry schedule resulted in 15 horses being entered for the Aspidistra. Several of them will start only if the race is switched to the main track.

If the Aspidistra remains on turf, Hermans Honor will be the favorite and starting highweight at 119 pounds. A daughter of Katowice, Hermans Honor rallied to defeat Lost Appeal in the Mia's Hope Stakes on July 6, then returned three weeks later and overcame traffic problems before outlasting that same rival in the Precious Feather Stakes.

Those victories were the first two on the year for Hermans Honor, who posted a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 91 in the Precious Feather. In her last 10 starts, she has run just once on dirt, finishing third against a modest field of optional claiming horses on June 6.

Lost Appeal, a late-running daughter of Valid Appeal, had some success on dirt earlier in her career, although she has improved since she was switched to the grass by trainer Buddy Edwards last winter.

Among the more versatile members of the Aspidistra lineup are Vidlocity and Sara's Success.

Vidlocity finished fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Precious Feather but also has shown the ability to win on the main track. She defeated Hermans Honor by seven lengths under allowance conditions in a race taken off the grass here last summer, and continues to work in spectacular fashion for trainer Marty Wolfson.

Sara's Success was seventh in the Precious Feather making just her second start after returning from a five-month layoff in early July. She is a four-time winner on grass but has also captured three races on dirt and moves up over a wet course.

If the Aspidistra moves to the main track, archrivals Stormy Frolic and Redoubled Miss become the ones to beat. Ms Brookski also figures to improve off a much-needed sprint tightener earlier this month.

Stormy Frolic returns from Kentucky, where she finished a tiring sixth after a wide trip in the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes. Three weeks earlier, Stormy Frolic had defeated Redoubled Miss by nearly two lengths in the Nancy's Glitter Handicap. She is also a wet-track specialist, having posted a 6 3/4-length triumph over a sloppy track in the Calder Budweiser Breeders' Cup Handicap on April 26.