05/13/2005 12:00AM

D'Wildcat Speed out indefinitely

Skip Smith
The speed Lady in Pink used to win the Happy New Year has been missing.

MIAMI - It took almost a year to get her right, but once trainer Bill White finally had D'Wildcat Speed healthy it appeared she could be on her way to a big season. The 2003 Puerto Rican champion, D'Wildcat Speed showed her class by finishing third behind Madcap Escapade in the Grade 2 Shirley Jones Handicap and then upsetting 3-5 favorite Isola Piu Bella in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

White was looking forward to running D'Wildcat Speed in last week's Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, White and the injury-prone D'Wildcat Speed never got to make the trip.

"She was working brilliantly for the race but after her last work she did not come back 100 percent," White said. "She's had problems in the past. She had screws put in her back cannon bone and she also had trouble with chronic bruised feet. I've handled her with kid gloves all along and she's worth too much as a broodmare now that she's a graded stakes winner to take any chances with her at this point."

White said D'Wildcat Speed is still in his barn being evaluated but that she will probably be sent to the farm for 30 days with the hopes of having her back to run again later this summer.

"Naturally this was a major disappointment, but it's not as if something like this wasn't totally unexpected considering what we've been through with her in the past," said White, who trains D'Wildcat Speed for owner-breeder the P.R. Speed Inc. "It's unfortunate because running her in the Louisville Breeders' Cup would have given us the opportunity to see if she fits at the top, and it looked like she was going into the race with some momentum and all her physical issues behind her."

Mecke's owners die

Alice and James Lewis Jr., best known for campaigning the multiple Grade 1 winner Mecke, died within days of one another last week. Alice Lewis, 83, died of heart failure on May 6 and her husband, James, also 83, died four days later. The couple had been married for 57 years.

"They were inseparable," said Manny Tortora, who trained the Lewises' horses for 20 years. "Theirs was a true love story."

Mecke, who won such prestigious races as the Arlington Million, Super Derby, and Early Times Turf Classic, earned more than $2.4 million for the Lewises during his racing career. He has since turned into a successful sire and currently stands at Ocala Stud Farm. The Lewises also campaigned Always Silver, who set a track record winning the Alabama Derby, and Sea Pinder, who finished 15th in the 1992 Kentucky Derby.

Lewis, who ran Lewis Marine Supply Company in Ft. Lauderdale for 49 years, was the leading owner at Calder in 1994, during the Tropical at Calder meet in 1998-99, and was inducted into the Calder Hall of Fame in 2000.

"They were the best owners in the world," said Tortora. "They traveled everywhere with their horses and everybody loved them everywhere they went."

Tortora said that the Lewises' daughter Betty Reyher would continue to campaign the family's 29 horses, 13 of whom are in training at Calder.

Slight edge to Our Exploit

Our Exploit, beaten a neck by the multiple-stakes-winning Argentine-bred mare Miss Victory in a Gulfstream Park allowance on March 27, may be slightly favored to defeat 11 other fillies and mares in Sunday's $40,000 Cool Air Stakes, scheduled to be run at five furlongs on the turf.

Our Exploit, who has not finished worse than second in three starts over the local course, will face a field that includes the turf stakes winner Lady in Pink, Blue Grass Dancer, and Tchula Miss.

Lady in Pink led throughout to win the Happy New Year Stakes here in her 3-year-old debut, but has failed to show that same kind of speed in her last two turf starts.

Tchula Miss, whose seven career wins have all come on dirt, finished third in the 2004 Cool Air.

* Simulcast wagering will be offered here Sunday on four races from Maronas Racetrack in Montevideo, Uruguay. The wagering will be offered through the North American hub at Pimlico and will follow the first nine live races on Sunday's card at the Baltimore track.