10/11/2007 12:00AM

Yonagucci facing a pack of speedy foes

EmailMIAMI - Want to get off to a good start betting the eight stakes races on Saturday's Festival of the Sun program at Calder? Take trainer Manny Azpurua's advice and wager on his Yonagucci in the $90,000 Cassidy Stakes.

"I don't think she can lose this race," said a confident Azpurua about the graded-stakes-placed 2-year-old filly. "She's back at the right distance now."

Yonagucci, a daughter of Yonaguska, was the local division leader earlier this season after winning her first two starts, including the J J'sdream Stakes on July 7. Those victories earned her a trip to Saratoga, where she held her own against some of the top East Coast juvenile fillies, finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes and third after a slow start in the Grade 1 Spinaway.

Azpurua brought Yonagucci home to try two turns for the first time in the Brave Raj on Sept. 22, but after prompting the pace into the stretch, she tired badly, finishing fifth behind new division kingpin Silk Ridge.

While Yonagucci is certainly the class of the field for the 5 1/2-furlong Cassidy, her detractors will point to the fact that her only two victories have come over wet tracks and that she has never run a Beyer Speed Figure higher than 71.

Yonagucci will face a field loaded with speed that includes the undefeated Sacred Realm and Permanent Makeup, recent maiden breaker Robbie's Gal, and Banga Ridge, Salty Wave and Arealhotlover.

Sacred Realm has won both her starts in gate-to-wire fashion, earning a Beyer Figure of 81 after outgaming Robbies Gal by three-quarters of a length in her career debut.

Salty Wave earned the top Beyer in the field, an 83, winning a five-furlong first-level allowance dash in July, but has tired badly in two subsequent starts. She finished eighth, far behind Yonagucci, in the Spinaway.

The $90,000 Birdonthewire for 2-year-old colts and geldings did not come up as strong as its filly counterpart, but should prove a competitive event with 10 scheduled to start in the 5 1/2-furlong dash.

Carson's Legacy, who tired badly trying to stretch his speed around two turns in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes, may be a slight choice in a field that includes California invader Whatever Whenever, the Foolish Pleasure runner-up Sr. Henry, and recent maiden winners Unlimited Dreams and Grande.

A full field of 12 older horses will go 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap.

Electrify and Olympic both bring two-race win streaks into the Spend a Buck and figure to benefit from what should prove to be a lively pace.

The pace should be a quick one if Fortunate Trail, Zoobstick, Yes He's the Man, and How's Your Halo all start.

The 3-year-old Scooter Girl, who is also entered for the Calder Oaks, will likely be favored to beat older rivals if she goes in the $100,000 Shocker T. Handicap at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares.

Scooter Girl has continued to improve for trainer Michael McDonald since stretching out around two turns and switching back to the main track late this spring. Since that time, Scooter Girl has won a first-level allowance race, finished second in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, and most recently drew away to a 9 1/2-length decision in the Regal Gal Stakes. The Shocker T. would be her first try against older horses.

Scooter Girl is coupled in the wagering with stablemate Funny Annie, a two-time stakes winner coming off a second-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in the Cinnamon Girl Stakes on Sept. 22.

Cat Can Do, already a three-time stakes winner at the meet, will be among the other chief players.