05/13/2002 11:00PM

Caressing will race while in foal

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Caressing, North America's champion juvenile filly of 2000, has returned to training in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus.

On April 21, during a 30-day layoff from the races, Caressing was bred to Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner who stands at Ashford Stud near Lexington for $135,000. She arrived back in trainer David Vance's barn at Churchill Downs on Monday.

"We decided on Sunday to send her to Churchill," said Bill Landes, who manages Hermitage Farm near Louisville, Ky., for Caressing's owner, Carl Pollard. "We made the decision mainly because of the experience I had with Fit for a Queen." Fit for a Queen successfully raced for Hermitage's previous owner, the late Warner Jones, while in foal. Also, Landes said, "While Caressing was here on her break, she did really well."

Landes said Caressing's feed and training regimen will remain much the same as it did before she was bred. Veterinarian Dr. Scott Kendall will monitor Caressing's pregnancy and health while she is in training. He will perform ultrasounds on the fetus at intervals of 28, 36, 45, 60, and 90 days of pregnancy.

Landes said that, if she needs medication while at the track, Caressing will receive therapies deemed safe for pregnant mares. He also said that she will stop racing at the end of September.

"Of course, David has been warned by Mr. Pollard that if she gets unhappy or something goes wrong, he should send her home," Landes said.

Landes acknowledged that it is unusual for pregnant mares to race, but said that Fit for a Queen had taught him "it could be pulled off successfully."

Fit for a Queen, a multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire, raced until September in the year of her pregnancy.