12/08/2005 1:00AM

Yankee Master goes for No. 3

Bill Straus
Yankee Master romps to victory in the Bourbon at Keeneland in October. He'll be favored in Saturday's Kris S.

MIAMI - Trainer Linda Rice expected Yankee Master to be a good turf horse after watching the 2-year-old colt work this summer over the grass course at Saratoga's Oklahoma training track. And up to this point, her expectations have been met.

Yankee Master scored easy victories in each of his first two starts, both on the grass, and will be heavily favored to continue winning when he faces 11 other juveniles in Saturday's $100,000 Kris S. Stakes at Calder. The 1 1/16-mile turf race shares top billing with its filly counterpart, the $100,000 Cherokee Frolic.

launched his career with a come-from-behind, three-length maiden win at a mile at Belmont Park on Sept. 24. Yankee Master returned five weeks later with an even more dominating performance to win Keeneland's Bourbon Stakes by five lengths, an effort that earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He trained well on the dirt but was brilliant the first time I worked him over the turf at Oklahoma," said Rice. "And fortunately, so far he has run true to his works. I was especially pleased with his performance in the Bourbon. You can never plan on a young horse jumping up out of a maiden race and performing the way he did, but it sure is exciting when they do."

Rice shipped Yankee Master to Palm Meadows two weeks ago and said that he is continuing to train extremely well for the Cherokee Frolic.

"I worked him five furlongs on the dirt just before we left for New York, and he went very well," said Rice. "If all goes well Saturday, I might bring him back at the end of the meet in the Tropical Park Derby."

Rafael Bejarano, who rode Yankee Master in the Bourbon, will be aboard again Saturday.

The field for the Kris S. came up strong. Along with Yankee Master, it includes local division leader Mr. Silver and shippers Elizabul, Up an Octave, and High Stakes Gamble.

won both of his previous starts on turf, including the Arthur Appleton Juvenile Turf Stakes here Nov. 12. He will share high weight of 122 pounds with Yankee Master under the allowance conditions of the Kris S.

has yet to run poorly in three previous turf outings for trainer Bill Mott, winning his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths at Belmont in late September and more recently finishing a troubled fourth under first-level allowance conditions at Churchill Downs.

Up an Octave will make his turf debut in the Kris S. for trainer Todd Pletcher, attempting to improve on a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Storm Cat Stakes at The Meadowlands. Up an Octave, a son of Brahms, figures to handle the grass considering his above-average 352 Tomlinson turf rating.

The versatile Gin Rummy King has been second-best behind Mr. Silver in his only two previous turf starts, while Can't Beat It is an improving young colt by Atticus who will be making his grass debut in the Kris S.

A field of 12 2-year-old fillies is in the Cherokee Frolic, led by the uncoupled pair of Christmas Stocking and Categorize from trainer Anthony Dutrow's barn. Other key contenders include Survicat and Good Intentions, who wound up in a dead heat for first via the disqualification of Mia's Reflection in the John Franks Juvenile Turf Fillies here on Nov. 12, and recent grass maiden winners Frozen Treat, Sprightly, and Ocean Beauty.

Christmas Stocking, claimed for $25,000 at Delaware Park on Sept. 11, rallied to an easy 6 1/2-length maiden win in his first try around two turns on grass. Categorize was claimed for $75,000 after rallying from far back to win his only previous start.