08/01/2007 12:00AM

Fantastic Shirl surges late to win De La Rose


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - First, Fantastic Shirl needed a scratch to get into the De La Rose. Then, she needed a daring ride by John Velazquez to win it.

Stuck behind a wall of horses in upper stretch, Velazquez guided Fantastic Shirl to the inside, then split horses in deep stretch to win the $83,500 De La Rose by one length over Amansara. It was a neck back to A True Pussycat in third.

When entries came out Sunday, Fantastic Shirl was on the outside looking in at the De La Rose field. But she drew into the field when Stan Hough scratched Star Prize.

After Fantastic Shirl lagged near the back of the pack for most of the trip, Velazquez shot her between Amansara and A True Pussycat in deep stretch to get the win. Fantastic Shirl, a 4-year-old daughter of Fantastic Light owned by Dell Ridge Farm and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, covered the mile in 1:34.33 and returned $11.60.

Velazquez said he wanted to follow Ballet Pacifica, under Julien Leparoux, but that horse got stalled in traffic. That's when Velazquez moved Fantastic Shirl from the five path to the two path and she exploded between rivals.

"What a nightmare," Velazquez said. "I tried to follow Leparoux's horse and he ended up in a roadblock and he couldn't even open the hole. I committed myself to being behind him. All of a sudden I had to go back to the inside. It just happened that the hole opened up, I spanked her, and she went right through it."

* Earlier on the card, Lauren's Tizzy ($7.90) took over from pace-setting Karakorum Starlet at the top of the stretch and drew off to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $81,750 Fleet Indian Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares. Shady Lane finished second by 1 1/4 lengths over Mama Theresa.

Lauren's Tizzy, owned by Sarah Lyn Stables and trained by Mark Hennig, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.32.