10/31/2002 1:00AM

Do you notice any repeat patterns here?

Email

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Can you stand one more Breeders' Cup recap column? In return for your attention I solemnly swear not to rehash much of what has already been said.

Distaff: Interesting to go back through Azeri's past performances and see she made her debut a year ago, nearly to the day, in a six-furlong maiden sprint at Santa Anita. She won by six lengths in 1:08.80 under a hand ride and paid - get this - $36.60. And, how many other times have you seen a horse run a top Beyer while also sporting front bandages for the first time?

Juvenile Fillies: Personal Ensign looked beaten in midstretch of the 1988 Distaff - and won. Personal Ensign's daughter, My Flag, looked beaten in midstretch of the 1995 Juvenile Fillies - and won. My Flag's daughter, Storm Flag Flying, looked beaten in midstretch of the 2002 Juvenile Fillies - and won. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat has become a family tradition, one that Shug McGaughey could probably just as soon do without. And since Storm Flag Flying ran .01 seconds faster than Vindication, don't think the Kentucky Derby hasn't crossed McGaughey's mind. Remember, My Flag ran third behind Editor's Note and Skip Away in the 1996 Belmont Stakes. Another thing: With any other bloodlines, Storm Flag Flying probably doesn't dig down to her heart of hearts and find one more surge, which would have given Mike Smith three of the five Breeders' Cup dirt races, and what a story that would have been.

Mile: The three Irish-bred horses ran first-second-eighth. I managed to lock on to Dress to Thrill, the eighth-place finisher. Only afterward did my post-mortem handicapping catch Domedriver's 125 Timeform rating in the Prix Jacques le Marois two starts back, which happened to be the second best rating in the field, right behind Rock of Gibraltar's 126 for the St. James's Palace Stakes three back. I keyed Dress to Thrill because she was 4 for 4 at the distance and had improved her ratings each and every time out - 76-102-104-109-112-113-116. Apparently, my Timeform handicapping needs work.

And if you didn't notice, the 6-year-old Green Fee, who ran for a $45,000 claiming price last year, and for a $75,000 tag as recently as June, finished fifth. In so doing, Green Fee beat horses who this year had won, among other races, the Arlington Million, Manhattan Handicap, Woodford Reserve, Bernard Baruch Handicap, New Hampshire Sweeps Handicap, Fort Lauderdale Handicap, Hialeah Turf Cup, Shadwell Turf Mile, Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Maker's Mark Mile, Jerome Handicap, and the runners-up of the Met Mile, Forego, and Vosburgh handicaps. For doing all that, Green Fee brought home a check for $21,400.

Sprint: No matter the myriad fractions and running positions of the leading contenders, the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) method for isolating the main speed of the Sprint is nearly foolproof - it's the speed drawn closest to the rail. Last year, even though the rail was dead at Belmont, Xtra Heat broke from the one-hole, set all the pace and finished second, beaten a half-length at 17-1. A year later, Thunderello broke from the inside post, set all the pace and finished second, beaten a half-length at 48-1.

Orientate, you should know, is 6 for 6 in sprint stakes this year, winning at six furlongs, 6 1/2 furlongs, and seven furlongs, at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Calder, Saratoga, and Arlington Park.

Filly and Mare Turf: Bobby Frankel's charismatic persona in Daily Racing Form television commercials may have the talent scouts from a major credit card company considering the following spot: Breeders' Cup supplement fee - $ 90,000; winner's share - $665,600; all-Frankel exacta - $156; beating main client Juddmonte Farms with a horse you own - priceless.

Excerpted chart footnote for Islington, who was ridden by Kieren Fallon: "Broke slowly, steadied repeatedly in the early stages . . . swung four wide for clear sailing on the turn and finished strongly to narrowly miss the place."

Juvenile: If you remove the six horses trained by Bob Baffert and Aidan O'Brien, the superfecta is Most Feared-Listen Indy-Toccet-Whywhywhy, and whywhywhy even bother?

Excerpted chart footnote for Hold That Tiger, ridden by Kieren Fallon: "Was outrun for six furlongs after breaking in the air . . . circled seven wide on the turn and then rallied belatedly in the middle of the track."

Turf: European trainers and riders, for all their glowing international reputations, are totally overmatched by U.S.-based connections in one crucial regard - the ability to attain early position. This is not so much of a tactical disadvantage in slow-paced European racing, or in marathons like the Breeders' Cup Turf, but it is often a problem in position-sensitive races like the Mile and any of the dirt races. Consider the embarrassing misfires from the gate and additional positional errors suffered in the Mile by Rock of Gibraltar (O'Brien-Kinane) and Dress to Thrill (Weld-Smullen); in the Filly and Mare Turf by Zenda (Gosden-Hughes); and in the Juvenile by Hold That Tiger, Van Nistelrooy, and Tomahawk, the three O'Brien-trained colts who, at a collective sticker price of $10 million, broke 11th, 12th, and 13th.

Excerpted chart footnote for Golan, the third (and thankfully final) leg of the Kieren Fallon pick three: "Broke slowly, checked slightly along the inside entering the stretch the first time, trailed to the turn . . . " You get the idea.

Classic: Oct. 22, 2000 - The Phil Johnson-trained Volponi, a maiden going in, wins the Pilgrim at $21.80. Pattern: dirt to turf. Rider switch. Blinkers off. July 30, 2001 - Volponi, coming off three straight out-of-the-money finishes with Beyers of 84-92-88, wins a second-level allowance by 13 1/2 lengths as a lukewarm 5-2 favorite, with a 110 Beyer. Pattern: turf to dirt. Rider switch. Blinkers on. July 5, 2002 - Volponi, coming off a fourth-place finish at 2-5 in a classified allowance, in which he grabbed a quarter, wins the Grade 3 Poker Handicap at $20.60, with a 110 Beyer. Pattern: dirt to turf. Blinkers off. Oct. 26, 2002 - Volponi, second off a turf-to-dirt switch most recently in the Meadowlands Cup, romps to the most lopsided win in 19 runnings of the Classic as the rank outsider in the field at $89. Pattern: Rider switch. Blinkers on.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me four times . . .