10/16/2003 12:00AM

Wide-open field makes for lively Sleepy Hollow


ELMONT, N.Y. - Nobody could have known at the time, but last year's Sleepy Hollow Stakes for New York-bred juveniles turned out to be more significant than the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

While the top three finishers from last year's BC Juvenile have a combined record of 1-8 and just one graded stakes win since then, the top-three finishers from last year's Sleepy Hollow - Funny Cide, Spite the Devil, and Go Rockin' Robin - have combined to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Withers, and Peter Pan Stakes.

Funny Cide was a standout in last year's $100,000 Sleepy Hollow, but this year's renewal, which drew 11 horses, lacks a clear-cut favorite.

Friends Lake and Pa Pa Da, the one-two finishers from an Aug. 24 maiden race at Saratoga, are both bred to handle the Sleepy Hollow's one-mile distance.

Friends Lake, a son of A.P. Indy out of the Group 1-winning mare Antespend, worked out a perfect stalking trip and battled back to win that 6 1/2-furlong race by a head over a green Pa Pa Da. A son of Incurable Optimist, Pa Pa Da came back to win his maiden at one mile on the turf in his next start.

Trainer John Kimmel kept Friends Lake out of the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes because Friends Lake had been coughing. After working him five furlongs in 1:00.12 here on Oct. 7, Kimmel said he feels Friends Lake is "certainly ready to go."

Trainer David Donk plans to cross-enter Pa Pa Da in Sunday's $75,000 Pilgrim Stakes on turf, but said he would prefer to run Pa Pa Da on Saturday.

"I know he can run on grass," Donk said. "I'm looking to see how well he can run on dirt. I thought he was pretty green the first time out, but he still ran well."

Flagshipenterprise, who won the Bongard by four lengths in the mud, and Delta Ghost, who looked good winning a six-furlong maiden race on Sept. 10, are the other major contenders. Saratoga Episode, who comes from the same connections as Funny Cide, finished third in the Bongard and may appreciate a dry track Saturday.

Capeside Lady tops Maid of the Mist

Unlike the Sleepy Hollow, there is a standout in the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for juvenile fillies, which drew seven runners. Capeside Lady won the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes by nine lengths on Sept. 28 and ran faster than the boys did in the Bongard.

Capeside Lady is 2 for 2 against New York-breds, winning both starts by a combined 17 3/4 lengths. In between those races, she ran last in the Grade 3 Sorority at Monmouth.

"She got away slowly, and at Monmouth that's a bad idea," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won two of the first nine runnings of this race. "I felt like the Sorority was a throw out. Hopefully, she can run the same kind of race she ran in the Bongard."

Capeside Lady breaks from the outside post under John Velazquez. At 122 pounds, Capeside Lady must spot her six rivals seven pounds.

Stand on Top won her maiden at first asking against New York-breds, but has since been dusted in two graded stakes. Dearest Heart won her maiden by 19 lengths at one mile here on Sept. 19, and may have returned too quickly when she was beaten 17 1/2 lengths by Capeside Lady nine days later.