04/07/2004 12:00AM

Ema Bovary streak hits 9

Bill Straus
Ema Bovary wins her ninth straight race in the $175,000 Vinery Madison Stakes at Keeneland on Wednesday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - While compiling a win streak that reached nine Wednesday at Keeneland, Ema Bovary had been the beneficiary of one disqualification that kept the streak intact.

So when an objection was filed against Ema Bovary soon after she crossed the wire first in the $175,000 Vinery Madison Stakes, the possibility of her streak being ended by disqualification hung heavily in the spring air.

Fortunately for Ema Bovary's connections, the deep-stretch incident that led Richard Migliore, who rode runner-up Harmony Lodge, to object against Ema Bovary was disallowed. That decision by the Keeneland stewards led to yet another round of grins and laughs from trainer Larry Ross and jockey Roberto Gonzalez, the northern California duo that has teamed for all nine of Ema Bovary's wins.

"The mare crossed over late, but it wasn't enough to take her down," said Ross.

Indeed, as she edged away from Harmony Lodge in the final 100 yards of the seven-furlong Vinery Madison, Ema Bovary drifted in toward the rail. But Ema Bovary was clear of Harmony Lodge, the 2-1 second choice, who had survived an early duel with favored Lady Tak before continuing along gamely.

Ema Bovary, racing several lengths off the pace, had stalked fractions of 22.14 seconds and 44.35 before making a strong outside move in the turn. She finished in 1:23.41 over a fast track and returned $8.20 as third choice in a field of six fillies and mares.

Harmony Lodge finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Ema Bovary and three-quarters of a length before late-running Yell. Then came Virgin Voyage, Buffythecenterfold, and Lady Tak.

Ema Bovary, a 5-year-old Chile-bred, won five straight races before finishing second by a nose in the Kalookan Queen at Santa Anita on Dec. 31. The disqualification of Royally Chosen gave Ema Bovary the victory in that race. Since then, Ema Bovary has reeled off three more wins, including the Vinery Madison.

Ross, a 30-year training veteran, said he may put Ema Bovary's streak on the line in the Humana Distaff, a Grade 1 race on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.