05/18/2005 12:00AM

Change in tactics may benefit Runway Model


BALTIMORE - Partly because the Kentucky Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes are no longer linked in what was formerly known as the triple crown for fillies, there are few compelling reasons for a horse to compete in both races. After all, like the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, they are spaced just two weeks apart.

But trainer Bernie Flint said he believes Runway Model has the constitution to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish in the May 6 Oaks and successfully fulfill her role as the horse to beat in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday at Pimlico.

"I didn't think she had the best trip," said Flint. "She's got a lot of room for improvement in Maryland, in my opinion."

was closer to the early pace than usual in the Oaks. Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, she broke from the inside post, then chased Summerly and Sis City before fading in the far turn. Gary Stevens will have the mount Friday.

"That's not her style, to be pinned on the rail, running up on heels, waiting for something to happen," said Flint. "She's best when she can just sit back and make one run. That's what I'm going to tell Gary she needs. I know we're giving away our running secrets, but that's the way she is."

Runway Model will break from post 2 in a field of six in the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/8 miles. Although winless in three starts this year, Runway Model is easily the most accomplished horse in the field, having won four races and $713,598.

That record could make her a slight favorite in a field that also includes Spun Sugar, an up-and-comer from the Todd Pletcher stable. After a runner-up finish in her lone start at 2, Spun Sugar has won both of her starts this year, including a four-length romp last month in a Keeneland route over a filly, Atlas Valley, who wheeled back to win impressively on the Oaks undercard.

Spun Sugar, said Pletcher, "is a filly we've always been high on. Being by Awesome Again, she was going to want more distance. She certainly ran like it in her first two-turn race."

The balance of the Black-Eyed Susan field consists of Pleasant Chimes, Private Gift, Merrill Gold, and R Lady Joy.

For years, the Black-Eyed Susan had been the middle leg of an unofficial filly triple crown, with the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont being the final leg. But that union has been overtaken by the New York filly triple crown series of the Mother Goose, CCA Oaks, and Alabama.