08/09/2002 11:00PM

Will she be an Awesome investment?


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - As the trainer of the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Distorted Humor, Elliott Walden naturally is interested in the progress of that colt's progeny. One 2-year-old filly in particular caught his eye and is now in his barn.

Following Awesome Humor's decisive victory in the Grade 3 Debutante at Churchill Downs on July 6, Walden and his owners, Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner of WinStar Farm, purchased the filly privately from Tom Durant and trainer Ronny Werner.

Monday, Walden and his owners will find out just how wise an investment they made when Awesome Humor takes on undefeated Holiday Runner and four others in the $150,000 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. The Grade 2 Adirondack is run at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

Awesome Humor won her maiden on April 11 at Keeneland, beating next out maiden winners Vibs and Sensible. In the Debutante, Awesome Humor broke sixth, raced wide down the backstretch, and closed strongly to run down Vibs and win by two lengths in a solid 1:03.45 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

"The Debutante was really the race that impressed us," Walden said. "She came from off the pace; when he swung her out and asked her to run she kicked hard."

Walden has worked the filly twice at Saratoga, including a five-furlong move in 1:04.51 in which she worked in company with the colt Speed Hunter and went her first eighth in 14 seconds.

"I'm very happy with her, she's a big strong filly and I'm looking forward to running her," Walden said.

Naturally, the horse Walden fears is Holiday Runner, who is undefeated in three starts, including stakes wins in the Three Chimneys Juvenile and the Fashion Stakes. She got sick after the Fashion, but trainer D. Wayne Lukas says she's fine now. Lukas will be looking for his sixth Adirondack victory and 30th Saratoga 2-year-old stakes overall.

Holiday Runner will likely have to deal with early pace pressure from Ella Bella. That could help Awesome Humor, as well as Stellar, a first-out maiden winner for trainer Patrick Biancone. Biancone said he's running Stellar in this race because he needs another start in her prior to the Grade 1 Spinaway on Aug. 30.

"The way she won her maiden I really wish she would have finished second so she could have run a second race before the Spinaway because our target is really the Spinaway," he said. "She was very babyish the first time and I really think she needs another race to be spot-on for the Spinaway."