04/16/2002 12:00AM

De Bertie fills out short field


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Tuesday morning, Steve Flint didn't even know whether he would enter De Bertie, let alone run her. But when word got out that the field was short for the Doubledogdare Stakes, the Thursday feature at Keeneland, there was De Bertie, comfortably drawn on the rail in a field of just five fillies and mares.

Flint, who trains De Bertie for the Klein family of Louisville, said he did not want to run De Bertie if the field was too large or if Forest Secrets was part of the field. Neither occurred, because Forest Secrets, the standout 4-year-old trained by John T. Ward Jr., will bypass the 1 1/16-mile Doubledogdare in favor of the May 3 Louisville Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs.

"She bruised her foot a little the other day," said Ward. "Instead of rushing her into this, we decided just to wait until the Derby eve race."

Indeed, the absence of Forest Secrets drastically alters the complexion of the Doubledogdare, which will be run for the eighth time Thursday. Without Forest Secrets in the field, Maltese Superb, a rapid gray mare trained by Carl Bowman, should be able to make a relatively comfortable pace, and it will be up to the rest to come and get her.

From the rail, this is the Doubledogdare field: De Bertie, Jerry Bailey to ride; Dancethruthedawn, Robby Albarado; Waki Music, Mark Guidry; Extend, Pat Day; and Maltese Superb, Jorge Chavez.

De Bertie, as a multiple graded winner, will carry high weight of 120 pounds, four more than the rest of the field. Because of the mare's come-from-behind style, Flint considered waiting for the Louisville BC until finding out the Doubledogdare was shaping up the way it did.

"Nothing against Keeneland, but if you don't get the right kind of trip, saving ground, you're at a big disadvantage," said Flint.

Flint is hoping the right trip and De Bertie's class will carry her to victory. If she is to be outrun, it most likely will be by Maltese Superb or by Dancethruthedawn, a Sam-Son Farm filly who will be making her first start in eight months. Last June, Dancethruthedawn defeated males in the Queen's Plate, the most prestigious horse race in her Canadian homeland.

Probably the wild card of the group is Waki Music, whose 12 previous races all have been on turf.

The Doubledogdare, named for Claiborne Farm's champion filly of the mid-1950's, highlights a Thursday card that also includes three allowance races.

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