05/15/2003 12:00AM

Belong To Sea wins Miss Preakness


BALTIMORE - The weekend at Pimlico Race Course started well for trainer Lisa Lewis, who hoped it only would get better.

Lewis sent out Belong To Sea to a narrow victory in Thursday's $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. With that out of the way, Lewis had nearly 50 hours to fret over Saturday's Preakness Stakes, in which she was to race Kissin' Saint, a live longshot in the second leg of the Triple Crown.

"This race gave me something to worry about," Lewis said, poking fun at herself. "I wish it would have been later. Now I've got a long time to worry about the Preakness."

Belong To Sea came into the Grade 3 Miss Preakness unbeaten in two starts, having defeated maidens and then first-level allowance runners in March at Aqueduct. But she was only the fourth choice in the five-horse field, which found stakes-winning Forever Partners the 4-5 favorite.

Belong To Sea ($11.40) got a perfect trip. She sat outside of speedy Pompamento, who set out for the lead after rearing in the gate before the start. Belong To Sea took over soon after a half-mile in 45.85 seconds, then just did hold off the late charge of Chimichurri to win by a head.

Forever Partners loomed menacingly at the top of the stretch, but never could get past Belong to Sea and yielded second to Chimichurri. Ladyecho was fourth, and Pompamento faded to last.

Ryan Fogelsonger, who rode Pompamento, had a swollen right hand after the race and said he must have been injured when his filly acted up in the gate. Fogelsonger was scheduled to ride Cherokee's Boy in the Preakness.

Belong To Sea, who was ridden by Javier Castellano, was timed in 1:11.10 for six furlongs on the fast main track. The daughter of Belong to Me was purchased as a 2-year-old in training for $115,000. She is owned by Jeff Aimling, Steven Duncker, Alan Quartucci, and Ed Swyer.