In Angelina County, trainer Bill Boniface hopes to find a means to Kentucky.

The champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly of 1987, Angelina County is scheduled to begin her 1988 season today as the 120-pound highweight and early 5-to-2 favorite in Laurel's $50,000-added Gala Lil Handicap today. Boniface hopes the one-mile race will touch off a campaign for Angelina County that culminates with a Breeders' Cup appearance at Churchill Downs in November.

"This year, we're going to turn to where the money is," Boniface said. "We'll use the Maryland-bred races where we can, but we've set our sights a little higher."

Boniface and owner Carey Miller intended to give Angelina County at least one race in Florida this winter, but scrapped the plan after the dark bay filly incurred a minor shoulder injury in her stall.

Angelina County has won four of her last five races -- all stakes -- and has been a tractable performer. She rallied to win the Maryland Omni Oaks and Twist Stakes at Pimlico, then went wire to wire to take the All Brandy Handicap at Laurel and Honey Bee Handicap at the Meadowlands. She earned $282,034 in 1987.

Herb McCauley, named to ride Angelina County, probably won't have the lead today if Kerygma starts. A coupled entry with Cutlasee from Barclay Tagg's stable, Kerygma cut fractions of 23 and 46 2/5 seconds when she sprinted to victory in the six-furlong Cover Girl Handicap at Laurel Nov. 27. In her next start, the 1 1/8-mile Carousel, she was rated early and took the lead turning for home, but weakened to third.

The horses who passed her in the stretch -- Scotch Heather and Pretty Tricky -- are entered in the Gala Lil, as is stakes-winner Smart 'N Quick.