12/20/2001 12:00AM

De Bertie could shake up locals

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MIAMI - After banging heads with each other for most of the year, Castlebrook and Coolbythepool, the leaders of the local filly and mare handicap division, will have a major force to reckon with when Kentucky invader De Bertie joins the party for the inaugural running of the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap Saturday.

Castlebrook and Coolbythepool have accounted for five of the last six two-turn stakes and handicaps carded for older fillies and mares this season. But De Bertie, who earlier this year won Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Rampart Handicap before going to the sidelines for eight months, figures to give the locals all they can handle if she is on top of her game.

Castlebrook has tailed off just a bit after winning four of five starts, all stakes, from June 25 to Sept. 15. A poor start compromised her chances in the Shocker T. Handicap on Oct. 13 and she was a bit out of her element when sent 6 1/2 furlongs and finishing third in the U Can Do It Handicap in her last outing.

Coolbythepool took advantage of Castlebrook's unlucky beginning to easily win the Shocker T., thus ending a frustrating streak of four straight second-place stakes finishes.

De Bertie has started twice since returning to action last month, winning a money allowance race at Churchill Downs before finishing seventh in a strong field that included Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine in the Falls City Handicap.

Completing the Stage Door Betty lineup are Happily Unbridled, Cash's Pride, Extend, Sea Mist, Precious Feather, and Halo Reality.

Junior Deputy to carry Axthelm silks

Saturday will be the ninth running of the Pete Axthelm Stakes, and as has been tradition since the race's inception in 1993, one member of the field will carry the late Axthelm's gold and purple silks in the race. Axthelm's colors, which are represented by Ax Stable, were carried to victory by The Vid in the inaugural running of the event.

This year the Axthelm representative will be Junior Deputy, a lightly raced Son of Mr. Purple who is owned by Bob Ises and Nikki Proscia and trained by David Fawkes. Junior Deputy won Prairie Meadows's Prairie Mile Stakes on May 21 but has not started since finishing sixth in the Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes on July 15.

"In most years, Ax Stable's principal owner Warren Brubaker, who has horses stabled at Calder with trainer Jim McMullen, has had a horse in the race, but this year he didn't have one suitable," said Axthelm's longtime friend Jack Will, who is a member of Calder's publicity staff. "Junior Deputy's owners kindly let the colors fly for the ninth straight year. This year's race, with a big field and no clear-cut favorite, would have been a dream for [Axthelm], an opportunity to cash a big ticket for a small wager. You can bet he'd be all over the board betting the gimmicks in this one."