10/23/2001 11:00PM

Distaff: Frankel resigns himself to inside information on Flute


ELMONT, N.Y. - It was a day of extremes on Wednesday at Belmont Park for trainer Bobby Frankel. Aptitude drew an outside post for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic, a race in which Frankel would have preferred being drawn inside. And in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Flute landed an inside post, while Frankel was hoping she would be toward the outside of the field.

Flute, the Kentucky Oaks winner, ended up in post 2 when the expected field of 13 was entered in the Distaff, the first Breeders' Cup race on the program. Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, made Flute the 2-1 favorite on his morning line.

"I'd rather be out a little further, but I have no choice," Frankel said.

Post positions are thought to matter little in a race like the Distaff. Because 1 1/8-mile races are run around one turn at Belmont, there is a five-furlong run down the backstretch before the horses make their one and only turn to the left.

The Distaff has a base purse of $2 million, but the purse has swelled this year to $2,360,000 because Miss Linda, the Spinster Stakes winner, had to be supplemented to the race for $400,000. Of that amount, $40,000 goes toward entry and starting fees. The other 12 horses in the race merely had to pay the entry and starting fees, which are not added to the purse.

The field, from the rail out, is Tranquility Lake (Eddie Delahoussaye the rider), Flute (Jerry Bailey), Exogenous (Javier Castellano), Miss Linda (Richard Migliore), Two Item Limit (Alex Solis), Unbridled Elaine (Pat Day), Queenie Belle (Brice Blanc), Pompeii (Gary Stevens), Starrer (Chris McCarron), Atelier (Edgar Prado), Critical Eye (Jorge Chavez), Spain (Victor Espinoza), and Fleet Renee (John Velazquez).

Scotty Schulhofer, the trainer whose Exogenous is going for her third straight Grade 1 victory in the Distaff, was happy his filly drew an inside post.

"I like it. Number 3 is fine," Schulhofer said. "She's got Flute inside of her."

Exogenous comes off a victory over Flute, Spain, and Critical Eye in Belmont's Beldame Stakes on Oct. 6. Critical Eye's fourth-place finish was an improvement over her two prior starts, in which she beat a total of two horses. With Critical Eye's record of three wins in seven starts at Belmont, trainer Scott Schwartz is hoping she can continue to progress. An outside post, Schwartz said, was to his liking.

"We were hoping for an outside post. Not the outside post, but from what was left when our name was called, we got what we wanted," Schwartz said. "She likes to sit off the pace and outside. She should be able to avoid getting blocked."

Under the weight-for-age conditions of the race, fillies and mares age 4 and up * Tranquility Lake, Miss Linda, Queenie Belle, Pompeii, Atelier, Critical Eye, and Spain - all carry 123 pounds, three more than the 3-year-old fillies.

Spain is the race's defending champion. Should she win, she will become only the fifth horse to win two Breeders' Cup races, and only the second to capture the Distaff twice. Bayakoa won the Distaff in 1989-90.