06/30/2002 11:00PM

Fever forces Holiday Runner out of Debutante


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Holiday Runner, the unbeaten filly who would have been a solid favorite Saturday in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes, has been declared from the race because of a fever.

Mike Maker, assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, said the illness is "not serious, but enough that we have to pass the race."

Holiday Runner is unbeaten in three starts, having defeated male rivals in the Three Chimneys Juvenile here in May, then fillies in the Fashion Stakes at Belmont last month. The Meadowlake filly is owned by Steve Barberino Jr.

The defection of Holiday Runner is likely to draw a larger field than what had been anticipated for the Grade 3 Debutante, which is one of three stakes that will close out the 52-day spring meet this weekend.

Top contenders for the 5 1/2-furlong race include D'Nile, Bridget Says, Vibs, and either of the Steve Asmussen duo of Big Score and Watch Out Boys.

Meanwhile, Lukas, who notched his fifth stakes win of the meet when Orientate captured the Aristides Handicap here Saturday, still has Boston Park for the closing-day feature, the $125,000 Bashford Manor Stakes on Sunday. Posse, trained by Asmussen, figures as a big favorite in a short field in the Grade 2 Bashford Manor, the Debutante's male counterpart.

The first of the closing-week stakes comes Thursday with the $250,000 Firecracker Handicap, which is expected to draw a sizable field of older turf horses.

Probables for the Grade 2, one-mile race include Good Journey, Ally's Alley, Dernier Croise, Strut the Stage, Morluc, and Jake the Flake. Congaree, who has been under consideration for the race, will instead be pointed to the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 4.

Repent not ready for comeback

The comeback of Repent has been put on hold.

Repent, who until early April was widely regarded as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, has been turned out at Longfield Farm near Louisville. Trainer Ken McPeek said the colt had been a bit muscle sore in his shoulders since returning to training several weeks ago.

Repent underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery days after finishing second to War Emblem in the April 6 Illinois Derby.

"We're not in any hurry," said McPeek. "If I get him back to the races by the first part of September, that's plenty early enough."

Amoss making run at title

Tom Amoss sent out another winner Sunday, getting him to within one win of leading trainer Dale Romans going into the final week of the meet.

Amoss, who saddled Silver Sonnet for an allowance romp in the eighth race Sunday, has won with 20 of 59 starters. Romans has won 21 races from 111 starters.

Both trainers appear to have plenty of ammunition for the final five days of racing. Romans has easily the most starts of any trainer at the meet, but Amoss has entered three horses to Romans's one on Wednesday.

If Amoss and Romans happen to tie for leading trainer, it would further extend a statistical aberration. Romans has tied for the last two spring training titles - with Lukas in 2000 and Bernie Flint in 2001.

Meanwhile, the jockey and owner races have long been decided, with Pat Day and Ken and Sarah Ramsey having wrapped up those respective titles.

Island Echo loves Churchill turf

Island Echo ran her record over the Churchill turf course to 4 for 5 when she captured an allowance race here Saturday as a heavy favorite. A 5-year-old mare trained by Bill Mott, Island Echo won two grass races here last fall and two at this spring meet, sandwiched around a runner-up finish in the May 2 Mamzelle Stakes.

Also Saturday, Strength and Honor posted a second straight allowance victory for owner Kim Schipke and trainer Chuck Simon. A 3-year-old Carson City colt, Strength and Honor will be pointed to the King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga, said Simon.

* When Beverly Greedy ran fourth as the 3-2 favorite behind victorious Big Bad George in Sunday's $54,625 feature, it marked just the second time at the meet that a Lynn Whiting-trained horse has finished worse than second at the meet. From 16 starts, Whiting has 10 wins and four seconds.

* Jim Filburn, who was the mutuels manager at five different U.S. racetracks at the same time, died Thursday in Louisville at age 83.

Filburn, who began his mutuels career at the old Miles Park in the 1950's, worked at about a dozen tracks. During his peak in the 1970's, he was the manager at Churchill, Ellis Park, Latonia (now Turfway), Florida Downs (now Tampa), and the old Audubon Raceway.