Clever Power, the fastest 2-year-old filly in the east, made quick work of yesterday's $42,650 Heavenly Cause Stakes at Laurel.

With two scratches, the Heavenly Cause comprised only four horses. But it essentially was a one-horse race.

The 2-to-5 favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong race, Clever Power burst out of post 3 under Kent Desormeaux, had a three-length lead within the first eighth-mile and breezed to an 11 1/2-length victory over North Watch. Gina's Double finished a neck back in third.

Although Clever Power had won three of six starts and $89,730 before yesterday, trainer Marvin Moncrief knew the filly was an enigma beyond six furlongs. And although she shortened stride the last half-furlong, her lead never was in jeopardy.

"The only reason I hit her {with the whip} was to work her," said Desormeaux, who rode three winners yesterday in his return from Louisiana. "Now, the next time she runs, we won't have the excuse that she wasn't ready off her last race."

After cutting fractions of 22 4/5 seconds, :46 and 1:11 4/5 on a deep, muddy track, Clever Power crossed the wire in 1:19. Following Moncrief's instructions, Desormeaux continued to ride the filly for an extra 16th of a mile.

Clever Power won easily despite a gash near her rear left ankle, apparently incurred when clipped by Queen Caveat leaving the gate. "It doesn't look like it'll be that much of a problem," Moncrief said immediately after the race, "unless it blows up from from all the chemicals they have to put in the race track at this time of year."

Although Clever Power appeared a solid proposition to win the Heavenly Cause, Laurel management allowed show betting in the four-horse race. And bettors took advantage; of $18,316 wagered to show, $16,356 -- 89 percent -- went on Clever Power.

Because the track is required to pay at least 10 cents for every $2 winning mutuel, Clever Power cost Laurel $2,909.17 by finishing better than fourth.

"We're a gambling house," said Laurel Preisdent Frank De Francis, "and as a gambling proposition, I think we ought to offer show wagering to the public even in a short field. That's our philosophy. I don't think race tracks should allow show wagering only when the odds are stacked heavily in their favor."