03/21/2002 12:00AM

Bourbonette rematches Florida shippers


FLORENCE, Ky. - At Turfway Park, there are two days a year when the quality of racing far exceeds the everyday fare: Spiral Stakes Day in the spring, and Kentucky Cup Day in the fall. Each program consists of at least five stakes, with nary a claiming race to be found.

Although the 12-race Saturday card at Turfway is highlighted by the $500,000 Spiral, there also are four races for allowance horses and three for maiden special weights. The meat of the program is the four undercard stakes, which, as races 6 through 9, lead directly into the Spiral, which goes as the 10th race (post time, 5:09 p.m.).

The richest of those secondary features is the last one, the $150,000 Bourbonette Breeders' Cup Stakes (race 9). As a one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, the Bourbonette has evolved into a rather flexible prep, one that can serve as a launching pad for fillies going in longer races like the Ashland or Kentucky Oaks, or shorter races like the Beaumont or La Troienne.

The Bourbonette has been won by such standouts as Gorgeous (1989), Preach (1992), and Trip (2000), and although there does not appear to be a filly of that quality in this 15th running, the race ranks among the deepest and most competitive of the day.

The likely favorites include two recent returnees from Gulfstream Park, Take the Cake and Colonial Glitter, and a local filly on a four-race win streak, Ideveter.

Take the Cake, trained by Carl Nafzger, was an upset winner of the Forward Gal before finishing fifth in the Feb. 24 Davona Dale, a race in which Colonial Glitter finished second. Both fillies avoided stronger competition - principally Take the Cake's stablemate Belterra - when they bypassed the March 15 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream in favor of the Bourbonette.

Ideveter, trained by William "Buff" Bradley, most recently won the Valdale Stakes. Other fillies with solid credentials among the 10 entered in the Bourbonette include Cobblestone Road and Southey.

In the other undercard stakes:

* Tony Dutrow, who has Saratoga Blues in the Spiral, also shipped in Derby Drive from Maryland for the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes (race 8). Derby Drive has won his last two starts, both at Laurel, and could be a slight favorite in a field of eight.

Other logical contenders are Wild Horses, a recent 10-length maiden winner at Fair Grounds for Todd Pletcher; American Style, a two-time winner for Nick Zito; and Mr. Mellon, an impressive maiden winner last month at Gulfstream for Elliott Walden.

The Rushaway is a 1 1/16-mile race that long has been recognized as the Spiral's "little brother," or a race befitting 3-year-olds who are not quite ready for a race of the Spiral's caliber.

* Trainer Jim Chapman, who two years ago used the $60,000 Hansel Stakes as a springboard to stardom for Caller One, is back from California again this year with Expected Program, one of six 3-year-olds entered in the six-furlong Hansel (race 7).

Expected Program won two stakes last summer but is trying to rebound off a last-place finish in his lone start this year. He will have to improve to overcome World Trade, the likely favorite under Pat Day.

* Nafzger has a major contender in Far Sighted Sal in the $60,000 Queen Stakes (race 6). Still eligible for a second-level allowance, Far Sighted Sal comes into the six-furlong Queen off back-to-back losses at Gulfstream as an odds-on favorite.

Other threats include City Fair, winner of the Correction at Aqueduct last month, and Irish Fantasy, an impressive allowance winner at Gulfstream two starts back. A full field of 12, including two stable couplings, was entered.