06/10/2003 11:00PM

Fashion Girl preps for Debutante

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Because it is so early in the year, and the available number of maiden winners is relatively few, the racing secretary at any given track normally is reticent to card a June allowance race for 2-year-olds.

The reasoning is logical enough. Allowance races for 2-year-olds tend to come up with small fields - which horseplayers invariably disdain - and the races also tend to deplete the pool from which the racing secretary might want to fill a stakes.

Friday at Churchill, it just so happens that the ninth-race feature is an allowance race for 2-year-old fillies. The bad news is that the race drew just six entries, but there is some merit to its existence: Fashion Girl, who figures as a huge favorite in the five-furlong race for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Pat Day, most likely will be using the race as a prep for the only stakes race of the Churchill spring meet for 2-year-old fillies, the $100,000 Debutante on July 4.

In large part because there was no place else to run - no allowance race, for sure, and no filly stakes - Fashion Girl was matched against males for her second career start after beating fillies in her April 13 debut at Keeneland. Alas, the Three Chimneys Juvenile on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard proved too demanding for Fashion Girl, as she checked in a tired seventh behind the victorious Limehouse.

The competition in the Friday feature should prove far weaker, meaning Fashion Girl surely will be singled on many a pick three and pick four ticket. Touchy and Thesmellofhoney, both of whom won maiden-claiming races in their only starts, appear to be her main challengers.

Several preceding races seem to provide greater wagering intrigue on the 10-race card, including a starter-allowance route (race 8) and back-to-back claiming sprints for 3-year-olds (races 6 and 7). Twilight first post is 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

* Desert Gold, making her second start of the year, drew away from May Gator to win the third race Wednesday, one of three allowances on a 10-race card. With Day riding, Desert Gold returned $4 as the favorite in a race that scratched down to four starters after being transferred from turf to a sloppy main track. Two other turf races also were moved to the main track.