08/14/2002 12:00AM

You better watch out


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - You's glorious victory in the Test Stakes here and her other Grade 1 scores this season in the Acorn Mile, the Santa Anita Oaks, and the Las Virgenes will make her a solid favorite under Jerry Bailey in Saturday's $750,000 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles.

But the role of favorite in the historic Alabama, first run in 1877, has been one of racing's most perilous assignments. Heavy favorites have taken their lumps with stunning regularity, and through the years, the stories of these upsets have become legend.

Princess Doreen, who won 34 of her 94 starts in the 1920's, was the 2-5 favorite for the Alabama of 1924 though she was carrying 126 pounds and was conceding nine pounds to her two opponents in a field severely shortened by heavy rains. Precilla Ruley, prepared by that disciple of fitness, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, led most of the way and won by a length.

Twilight Tear, Horse of the Year in 1944 and one of the greatest fillies in American racing history, was 1-20 in the Alabama that season but was upset by an entry. Thread o' Gold set the pace and Vienna came from behind to win the race.

In his entertaining new book, "Graveyard of Champions," Bill Heller recounts the Alabama adventures of three divisional leaders, Bowl of Flowers, Cicada, and Lamb Chop. They were all odds-on choices in the Alabama and all three were upset.

There is a lot of history written at Saratoga each summer and trainer Frank Alexander wouldn't mind contributing a chapter this weekend.

He sends Joseph Platt Jr.'s Nonsuch Bay, winner of the Mother Goose, against You and the others in a very competitive renewal of the Alabama and expects the attractive chestnut daughter of Mr. Greeley to give a distinguished account.

"Nonsuch Bay hasn't made many mistakes," Alexander said. "Her consistency is a major asset. She has trained very well at Saratoga these past several weeks and we liked the way she rated kindly off the pace in the Mother Goose. The key to the Alabama is getting the 1 1/4-mile trip. We think she can do it."

To give Nonsuch Bay every chance, Alexander passed up the rich Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont last month.

"She will come to Saturday's race as a relatively fresh horse," he said. "The 3-year-old colts on the Triple Crown trail have three races in five weeks and many of them are knocked out for the summer. The 3-year-old fillies in the similar series have three races in six weeks and that can take a lot out of them, too."

Alexander selected Nonsuch Bay out of the Ocala sale of 2-year-olds. Acting for Platt, a retired insurance executive from Pittsburgh, he landed the filly for $75,000. She has earned almost $400,000, and as a Grade 1 stakes winner, has a value well in excess of her purchase price. That value may rise even further if the Alabama's upset history unfolds once again.

Another filly who appears well bought, though for a considerably higher price, is Awesome Humor. Acquired privately last month by WinStar Farm, she made her first start for her new connections here Monday and was an impressive winner of the $150,000 Adirondack Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"I was a bit surprised to see her go to the front," trainer Elliott Walden said. "She came from off the pace to win the Debutante at Churchill Downs. But it's nice to have a horse who is capable of versatile tactics. We were delighted with her race and now we are considering the $200,000 Spinaway on Aug. 30 for her next start."

Awesome Humor, who won all three of her starts, is a 16 hands blood bay, well balanced and full of quality. Walden trained her stakes-winning sire, Distorted Humor, who now stands at WinStar Farm. In winning` the Adirondack she beat a highly regarded filly, Stellar, who also has the Spinaway on her dance card. Stay tuned.