05/24/2001 11:00PM

April Run, it's a long way to go

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This one's for the marathon mares.

Seven older female turf specialists, plus one 4-year-old filly, will tackle 1 1/2 miles in Sunday's $50,000 April Run Stakes at Pimlico.

Of those with some experience at long distances, Free Vacation has the most solid credentials. A

5-year-old with career earnings of nearly $600,000, Free Vacation is just 1 for 12 over the past two seasons. But in three races at either 1 3/8 or 1 1/2 miles on grass during that same span, Free Vacation shows a win and two close seconds, an indication that the longer the race, the better she likes it.

Two of her good races came on yielding courses. Considering that rain is in the forecast, Free Vacation's ability to run well over soft going is a plus. She also has more early speed than any of her competitors in this field, which could leave her alone on the lead.

Free Vacation's stiffest competition could come from Krisada, a

5-year-old trained by Shug McGaughey. Although Krisada has been primarily racing against allowance horses, she was a respectable third when she moved up to face Grade 3 stakes company in Keeneland's 1 1/2-mile Bewitch in her most recent race.

Polly Jo, the lone filly in the field, was a solid second in a 12-furlong allowance race at Keeneland last month, her first start since November. If she's ready to improve off that effort, Polly Jo is capable of winning against this group.