06/12/2004 12:00AM

Bettors still shy away

Adoration cruises to a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Adoration received little respect when she won the Breeders' Cup Distaff last October at odds of over 40-1. More than seven months later, she continues to prove the betting public wrong.

Adoration won her second graded stakes of the year Saturday, winning the Grade 2, $439,200 at Churchill Downs as the third betting choice in the six-horse field.

The manner in which she won the Fleur de Lis was different from the wire-to-wire tactics she used in the Distaff. Adoration and jockey Victor Espinoza conceded the lead to the front-running Roar Emotion in the Fleur de Lis and rated comfortably in second, behind splits of 47.78 seconds and 1:12.85 over the sloppy track.

Leaving the turn she began to pick up the leader, and from the stretch to the wire, it was merely a question of whether Adoration could withstand the rally of Bare Necessities. Although Bare Necessities closed ground in midstretch, she could not put a dent in Adoration's lead late.

Adoration, a 5-year-old daughter of Honor Grades, won by 1 1/4 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.15. She paid $7.

"I was worried about the track, but she is bred for it," said winning trainer David Hofmans. He credited Espinoza for his patient, stalking ride.

Bare Necessities, third behind Adoration in their last meeting March 14 in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita, finished a clear second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place La Reason.

"I thought I had her for a moment at the top of the stretch," said Rene Douglas, who rode Bare Necessities.

Angela's Love; Yell, the favorite; and Roar Emotion completed the field.

Adoration earned $272,304 for Amerman Racing Stables in winning the Fleur de Lis. She will be targeted toward a repeat in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Hofmans said.

Three Fleur de Lis entrants - Miss Fortunate, Cat Fighter, and Mayo on the Side - were scratched in favor of other races. Miss Fortunate was scheduled to run in Saturday evening's Wild Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows. Cat Fighter is being pointed toward the June 19 Odgen Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park. Mayo on the Side is being considered for the Odgen Phipps or the Chicago Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park, also on June 19.