02/27/2003 1:00AM

'Bertie' can control Rampart


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - She is the class of the field, the speed of the race, and will have the hottest rider on the grounds in the saddle. Those three factors should add up to another easy victory for Allamerican Bertie in Saturday's $200,000 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

"I guess on paper you'd have to say she looks pretty good," said Steve Flint, Allamerican Bertie's trainer. "But she's still got to go out and do it. Although if she takes care of business and runs her race, I guess she'll be real tough to beat."

Allamerican Bertie has run her race enough times to have posted three graded stakes victories and to have finished second to Eclipse Award winner Farda Amiga in the Grade 1 Alabama last summer at Saratoga. She also beat much of this same field four weeks ago when she cruised to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap.

"There's not a lot of speed in the field, and she should be able to control the race the same way she did the Sabin," said Flint. He said that the Todd Pletcher-trained Smok'n Frolic "is a nice filly, and she'll make us run for it, but unless something really bad happens I like my chances."

Allamerican Bertie will be ridden Saturday for the first time by John Velazquez, who won both the Grade 1 Donn and Grade 2 Davona Dale handicaps here last weekend. Velazquez replaces Jerry Bailey, who will be at Santa Anita Saturday to ride Congaree in the Big Cap.

Allamerican Bertie will carry high weight of 122 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Rampart, conceding her five rivals from four to nine pounds. She is owned by Elaine, Richard, and Bertram Klein. Bertram and Elaine Klein will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

Smok'n Frolic enters the Rampart on a roll, having won the Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park to close out her 2002 campaign and the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita to open the 2003 season. She is obviously much improved since her first encounter with Allamerican Bertie when she finished sixth in the Alabama. Even trainer Todd Pletcher, though, admits beating the favorite will be a difficult assignment.

"It looks like on paper Allamerican Bertie is a standout, and if she gets loose on the lead she's going to be awfully tough to beat," said Pletcher.

Redoubled Miss and Softly finished third and sixth behind Allamerican Bertie in the Sabin. Tuff Chick and Southern Fiction round out the lineup.

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