05/28/2003 11:00PM

Any pace at all suits Lilac Queen


ELMONT, N.Y. - As strong as his barn is overall, there is no division in which Bobby Frankel is more potent than with his female turf horses. Of Frankel's 25 graded stakes victories this year, nine have come from seven different fillies and mares.

The best of the bunch could be Lilac Queen, who looks to remain undefeated in North America when she heads a nine-horse field entered in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap run at 11 furlongs over Belmont Park's inner turf course.

Lilac Queen, a 5-year-old German-bred daughter of Law Society, began her career in Germany where as a 3-year-old she won her first two starts before being beaten a neck in the Group 1 German Oaks.

Gary Tanaka purchased Lilac Queen shortly after that race and sent her to Frankel in the fall of 2001. According to Frankel, Lilac Queen had bad ankles when he got her and needed plenty of time off.

Lilac Queen made her North American debut on Jan. 24 when she came from well off the pace to win an optional claiming race by two lengths at Santa Anita. She then raced close to an unbelievably slow pace when winning a third-level allowance race at Keeneland before toying with nine rivals in the Grade 3 Bewitch Handicap.

Frankel said pace is of little concern to him when it comes to Lilac Queen.

"Doesn't matter to her, especially going long,'' Frankel said. "She lays close and relaxes. She doesn't pull. When they don't pull you can place them anywhere you want. When they pull you get in trouble because they wear themselves out. She's got to run a little faster than she has, but this filly has a great turn of foot.''

Owsley is the other horse assigned 119 pounds. She is 3 for 5 over Belmont's turf course and her one out-of-the-money finish was a fourth in this race last year. In the 2002 Sheepshead Bay, Owsley was trapped along the inside in the stretch and by the time she found running room, it was too late. She was only beaten a half-length.

Owsley has had a prep race - she finished fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Beaugay - and has worked well since. "I think she'll run real well, especially going 1 3/8 miles,'' trainer Randy Schulhofer said.

Snow Dance, second to Owsley in last year's WinStar Galaxy, and Mariensky, an improving filly trained by Christophe Clement, are the other contenders in the field.