Saturday, May 05, 2001

Flute proves her worth in Ky. Oaks

Filly nearly didn't make field

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Flute charged into the lead at the top of the stretch and then held off Real Cozzy to win the $609,200 Grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on Friday.

        The 3-year-old bay daughter of Seattle Slew entered the race with only a maiden victory in three career starts but was second to highly regarded Golden Ballet in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last month.

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        A lack of earnings nearly cost her a spot in the crowded Kentucky Oaks field, but she got in at the last minute when Scoop was not entered.

        “Can you imagine if I hadn't gotten in this race?” said trainer Bobby Frankel, who won the 1998 Kentucky Oaks with Keeper Hill. “Then nobody would have known just how good this filly is.”

        Flute, ridden by Jerry Bailey, covered 1 miles in 1:48 4/5 and paid $8.60, $5.80 and $5 in the Kentucky Derby Eve race dubbed the “Derby for Fillies.” She quadrupled her career earnings, winning $377,704 for Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.

        “I really thought the Churchill stretch, the track and the distance would suit her well,” Frankel said. “Jerry moved her, like, three different times, and she responded every time. He asked her to go and she went. I was impressed.”

        Real Cozzy, with Larry Melancon aboard, finished 2 3/4 lengths back and paid $15.20 and $10.80. Collect Call, a 40-1 shot ridden by Alex Solis, was another 2 1/2 lengths back and paid $18.80 to show.

        Fleet Renee, the 8-5 favorite and winner of the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last month, never challenged and finished a dis appointing fourth in front of 102,904 fans, the second-largest crowd in the race's 127-year history.

        “She didn't kick in at all,” trainer Michael Dickinson said. “I never thought (during the race) she was going to win. She was in beautiful position at the head of the stretch, but she didn't fire.”

        Nasty Storm and Mystic Lady set the early pace, bat tling neck-and-neck onto the backstretch. Tap Dance joined the two on the backside and poked in front by a head entering the final turn.

        It was there Flute took command, coming from the far outside to maneuver around the pack and pull in front at the top of the stretch. Real Cozzy also came hard from the outside but could not catch a driving Flute.


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