02/05/2004 12:00AM

Will the real 'Society' stand up?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - With a Grade 1 victory to her credit and a pair of Hall of Famers in her corner, figures to be a heavy favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park. But questions over her ability to handle two turns, and the presence of some fast-rising rivals, make the Davona Dale far more than a one-filly race.

The Grade 2 Davona Dale is at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, which Society Selection lost by 18 lengths after she was bounced around on the first turn. Considering she won her first two starts, including the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes, was the loss an aberration? Or was it an indication that two turns might be beyond her scope?

Jerry Bailey, who takes over for jockey Ray Ganpath, will try to see to it that Society Selection stretches out successfully. Society Selection has a series of sharp works for trainer Allen Jerkens, but wet weather last weekend postponed her final drill until Wednesday.

Three of Society Selection's six rivals - Eye Dazzler, Last Song, and Miss Coronado - offer tempting alternatives.

Eye Dazzler rallied strongly to win a first-level allowance sprint here Jan. 5. She was well back of Society Selection in the Fritzette and has yet to race around two turns. But trainer Mark Hennig thinks Eye Dazzler has matured in recent months.

"The time off after her last race in New York did her some good," Hennig said Thursday. "I'm looking forward to trying two turns with her. She got caught up in the pace in several of her races as a 2-year-old, but she's relaxing more now."

Last Song was a powerful winner in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race Jan. 19, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 90, the best two-turn number in the race. She is seeking her third straight victory.

Miss Coronado arrived from California with stablemate Medaglia d'Oro, who runs later in the day in the Donn Handicap. Although Miss Coronado owns only a maiden win in two starts and has yet to race on dirt, trainer Bobby Frankel believes she has quality. And Frankel also wanted to avoid Halfbridled and A.P. Adventure, who are scheduled to run in next week's Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita.

"There's no sense running against them," Frankel said. "This filly's always trained brilliantly on dirt. I started her out on turf because I didn't want to sprint her. And it's easier to go a route on grass than dirt. You don't have to train them as hard."