10/05/2001 11:00PM

Exogenous survives inquiry in Beldame


ELMONT, N.Y. - First, Exogenous had to survive a health scare in the days leading up to Saturday's Grade 1 Beldame. Then, she had to survive a stewards' inquiry.

Exogenous emerged from both incidents unscathed and became a major player in the 3-year-old filly division Saturday with a 1 1/4-length victory in the $750,000 Beldame at Belmont Park.

Flute, the 4-5 favorite and the leader of the 3-year-old filly division, finished second, a head in front of Spain. Critical Eye, Serra Lake, Beautiful Pleasure, Pentatonic, and Irving's Baby completed the order of finish.

Exogenous, who raced in fifth position early, had to survive a stewards' inquiry after she twice lugged in during the stretch run. Javier Castellano, the rider of Exogenous, said his filly raced on the wrong lead down the backside and into the stretch and that she lugged in after he hit her right-handed. Still, Castellano did a yeoman's job straightening her out.

Although Victor Espinoza checked aboard Spain, as did Jerry Bailey aboard Flute, the stewards let the result stand after Espinoza told the stewards that he was not bothered by Exogenous. Espinoza said he checked in anticipation of a bump that never came.

"We felt the horse was much the best,'' said David Hicks, the New York Racing Association steward. "There was not enough interference to disqualify the filly.''

Bailey, who guided Flute to the inside for the stretch drive, was upset because he was waiting to talk to the stewards and the race was made official before he got that chance.

"I would have said that I went from the three path to the rail and I didn't do it on my own,'' said Bailey, who said that Flute hung from the three-sixteenths pole to the sixteenth pole. "The thing that gets me is, did it not cost [Spain] second place?"

Espinoza said it did not.

"I don't think she deserved to come down,'' Espinoza said of Exogenous.

Exogenous covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.20 and returned $9.20 as the second choice.

It was the second straight Grade 1 win for Exogenous, who four weeks ago won the

Grade 1 Gazelle. Both races are at nine furlongs, the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Distaff, which will be run here on Oct. 27.

Earlier this week, it didn't look like Exogenous would make the Beldame, let alone the Breeders' Cup. It was feared she had a bowed tendon, but it turned out to be just an infection that cleared up in one day.

Owner Vernon Heath wanted to run Exogenous Saturday, trainer Scotty Schulhofer said, "because if we win this and then we can win the Breeders' Cup we can be the 3-year-old of the year."