Highland Blade was something of a mystery horse in the Everglades Stakes today. He had been running well on the grass, but neither his trainer nor anyone else knew whether he would be able to show the same ability on the main track.

The colt answered that question in a smashingly affirmative fashion. He captured the 1 1/8-mile event with a powerful stretch run that suggested he might be the best 3-year-old who has run in Florida so far this winter.

He scored by 1 1/4 lengths over John Speaks, and covered the distance in an excellent 1:48 3/5. Calumet Farm's previously unbeaten Kentucky Derby aspirant, Cinnamon's Choice, was another seven lenghts back and his reputation was badly tarnished.

All these horses were biding their time during the early stages of the Everglades, while speedsters dueled for the lead along the backstretch. As the field approached the final turn, John Speaks accelerated suddenly along the rail, swung outside the pacesetters and looked as if he were about to draw away impressively. But just as he made his move, Highland Blade launched his, swooping around the field on the turn.

Highland Blade caught John Speaks in midstretch and the two of them drew away from the pack. Cinnamon's Choice finished a distant third and was subsequently disqualified and placed out of the money.

The winner returned $19, $9.29 and $4.40. John Speaks returned $8.40 and $5 while Sezyou paid $5.40 to show.

Highland Blade had won an allowance race and a minor stake on the grass at Gulfstream Park this winter.