03/10/2003 1:00AM

Yell out. Ivanavinalot in?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A week ago trainer Kathleen O'Connell and the connections of Ivanavinalot had all but decided to pass Friday's Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes for what they figured to be a softer spot in Sunday's Grade 3 Florida Oaks.

But that changed once the nominations for the Bonnie Miss were released. Now it appears Ivanavinalot may forgo the trip to Tampa to compete in the Bonnie Miss, Gulfstream's premier race for 3-year-old fillies.

Once owner-breeder Gil Campbell "found out Yell was not nominated for the Bonnie Miss, it got us to thinking seriously about staying here," O'Connell said Monday.

Ivanavinalot finished a well-beaten second behind Yell in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes on Feb. 23.

"Right now, our main interest is doing what's best for the filly and finding the easiest spot," said O'Connell. "Naturally there's going to be a couple of tough horses in any race like the Bonnie Miss or the Florida Oaks. They are just not going to hand you $150,000 or $200,000. I'll discuss the situation with Mr. Campbell and his racing manager" - Larry King - "and we could enter her in both races. Ultimately, the final decision will be left to Mr. Campbell."

Two things are certain: Ivanavinalot will be the favorite whether she stays here for the Bonnie Miss or ships to Tampa for the Oaks and she will have a new rider, John Velazquez, in either spot.

O'Connell voiced her displeasure immediately after the Davona Dale that jockey M.R. Cruz had put Ivanavinalot on the lead instead of taking back off early challenger Perfect Story.

"It may not have made a difference in the final outcome, but I wish she had been ridden a little differently," said O'Connell. "Speed hadn't been holding all day and it wasn't like we had the one post, where she was forced to go to the lead. If ever there was a perfect time to sit and see if she could rate off the lead going two turns that was it."

A field of five to seven 3-year-old fillies is taking shape for the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss. Along with Ivanavinalot, it could include Spin Control, Ebony Breeze, and the Carl Nafzger-trained pair of My Boston Gal and Westerly Breeze. Fircroft and Gold Player have also been listed as possible starters, according to the racing office.

My Boston Gal and Westerly Breeze tuned up for the Bonnie Miss with five-furlong works on Monday. My Boston Gal went in 1:02.40 under exercise rider Peter Gulyas; Westerly Breeze went in 1:00.80 with jockey Rene Douglas aboard.

My Boston Gal came into the Davona Dale undefeated but finished a well-beaten fifth in her 3-year-old debut, after which Nafzger discovered she had an ulcer on her epiglottis which restricted her breathing.

My Boston Gal has trained extremely well since the Davona Dale.

"She worked great this morning," Nafzger's assistant Ian Wilkes said shortly after My Boston Gal had cooled out. "I caught her last eighth in just over 11 seconds."

Storm Flag Flying pushed back

Trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed on Monday that his Eclipse Award winner Storm Flag Flying would not launch her 3-year-old campaign in Friday's seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes or Aqueduct's seven-furlong Cicada Stakes the following weekend as originally planned.

"We got a little behind with her here because of the heat, which has put all plans on hold for the time being," McGaughey said on Monday. "Right now I'm looking at the Comely on April 18 for her first start."

Record-setting temperatures and high humidity forced McGaughey to back off on Storm Flag Flying when he sent her out to breeze here on Thursday. She went a very leisurely half-mile in 50.40. In her previous work, the undefeated filly worked the same distance in 49.

"We probably had a chance to make the Forward Gal, but the heat just knocked her back a bit," said McGaughey. "I'll work her again here Friday and begin thinking about getting her to New York around the first of April, depending upon the weather up north."

The Comely is only two weeks before the first major objective this season for Storm Flag Flying, Churchill Downs's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, on May 2.

"It's still possible she can run in the Comely and still come back for the Oaks," McGaughey said.

A small field seems likely for the Grade 3 Forward Gal. As of Monday, only six fillies were confirmed for the race, Bella Lauren, Crafty Brat, Final Round, House Party, City Fire, and Midnight Cry.

Harlan's Holiday headed to Dubai

Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Donn Handicap, is on course to make his next start in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 29, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday.

Pletcher and owner Jack Wolf had been concerned about the possibility of war in Iraq - not far from the Dubai region - possibly canceling the race, but they now believe the show will go on.

"Right now, everything's in order to go to Dubai," Pletcher said. "The concern was whether it was possible to get the horse over there and the race would be canceled or postponed, and if the horses and the people with the horses would be able to get back."

Another concern was if running in the World Cup would compromise Harlan's Holiday for the remainder of his 4-year-old season. According to Pletcher, research done by Wolf appears to dispel the commonly held believe that horses who run in Dubai don't regain their prior form.

"Formal Gold is one example," Pletcher said. "After he came back his Beyer Figures jumped to a whole different level. Victory Gallop ran two of the best races of his life winning the Stephen Foster and Whitney before getting hurt. Behrens ran twice in the World Cup and maintained his form after the first time anyway."

Pletcher said Harlan's Holiday would work Thursday at Gulfstream and was due to ship to Dubai on Saturday.

Busy weekend for Jerkens

Trainer Allen Jerkens will be busy on two fronts this weekend. He will send out House Party on Friday for the Forward Gal, come back with Private City and perhaps First Blush here the following afternoon in the Grade 3 Swale, and run Preferred Option in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie on Sunday. He also plans to send Spite the Devil to New York to compete in the Grade 3 Gotham on Saturday at Aqueduct.

Spite the Devil worked seven furlongs in 1:25.80 here on Monday.

Manning unleashes a tiger

Grand Hombre, a 3-year-old first-time starter by Grand Slam, won his maiden by four lengths on Saturday, covering six furlongs in 1:08.66 in the process. Trained by Dennis Manning, Grand Hombre showed only three slow works at Classic Mile Farm in Ocala.

"I knew he could run, I was pleased with the way he ran," Manning said.

When asked if the final time was a product of the horse or the lightning fast racing strip, Manning said, "it's both."

Manning said neither he nor owner-breeder Earle Mack had a next race picked out for Grand Hombre.

* Harmony Lodge, winner of the First Lady and Shirley Jones handicaps at this meet, worked four furlongs in 52 seconds Monday at Palm Meadows. She is being pointed to Sunday's $100,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes. Among her rivals will be Gold Mover, who drilled five furlongs in 1:00.40 Sunday morning at Gulfstream.

* Take Charge Lady worked four furlongs in 48.20 seconds Monday at Gulfstream as she continues preparations for her seasonal debut in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 5.

- additional reporting by David Grening