05/31/2006 11:00PM

Ask Queenie may be vulnerable


The best mare in New England is in action in a stakes race Saturday at Suffolk Downs. It's rare to say that about a Massachusetts-bred, but Ask Queenie has the credentials to back it up in the $40,000 Isadorable Stakes for statebred fillies and mares.

There has been a steady stream of top-notch horses bred in Massachusetts that dominated the statebred stakes program, but few ever took their game into open races with as much success as Ask Queenie has over the last two seasons for owner Laurine Barriera and her mother, trainer Lori Lockhart.

On top of that, the 5-year-old Ask Queenie has had to take her show on the road because Suffolk is closed during the winter. She finished third in two open stakes in New Jersey and Maryland. Now she's back home for the first time in 2006.

The biggest obstacles in her path Saturday could be the six-furlong distance and the return from five months on the sidelines.

Ask Queenie won 7 of her 12 races last year - including the Isadorable - to start a campaign that will likely win her the New England horse of the year award. The only time she lost to females at Suffolk last year was when she was sprinting. Her worst race of the year came last July when she had to break from the rail at six furlongs and tired to finish fourth.

The Isadorable appears just as deep as last year's version, when Ask Queenie held off Glory Be Good by a neck.

Leading trainer John Rigattieri sends out the entry of Stylish Sultana and Strawbrysundance. Stylish Sultana won two statebred stakes last year, keeping alive a streak of stars sent out by her parents, the sire Sundance Ridge and the mare Sultan's Light. She was only 3 when she tried to take on Ask Queenie in this race last year. Rigattieri may also know what it takes to beat the favorite since he trained Ask Queenie in Maryland through the winter for Lockhart.

Flirt for Fame, a 3-year-old filly, will take on her elders for trainer Mike Gorham. She won her maiden here last October, then hit the board in a Mass-bred 2-year-old stakes. She wintered in Maryland and recently returned to action with a second-place finish against older in an allowance at Delaware Park.

Stakes schedule for statebreds released

Saturday's Isadorable is the first of 12 $40,000 stakes this season for Massachusetts-breds.

Following the Isadorable's companion race for males, the Rise Jim on Sunday, stakes will be held every two weeks through the summer and fall, including the John Kirby for 3-year-olds at a mile as the only stakes on the undercard for the Massachusetts Breeders' Cup Handicap. The return of the Mass Cap drained the funds for open stakes this year.

The complete schedule:

June 3IsadorableF&M6 furlongs
June 4Rise Jim3YO & Up6 furlongs
June 17Mystery Jet3YO F6 furlongs
July 3African Prince3YO6 furlongs
July 29First EpisodeF&M1 mile, 70 yards
Aug. 5Last Dance3YO & Up1 mile, 70 yards
Aug. 19Thomas Moran3YO & Up1 1/16 miles (T)
Sept. 4Sunset GunF&M1 1/16 miles (T)
Sept. 16Louise Kimball3YO F1 mile
Sept. 30John Kirby3YO1 mile
Oct. 28Amelia Peabody2YO6 furlongs
Nov. 11Norman Hall2YO6 furlongs