12/15/2004 1:00AM

Filly at Beulah ran loose, then ran big


First-time starter Regal's Big Girl gave her connections and backers more than a few anxious moments before Saturday's 14th race at Beulah Park.

A 3-year-old daughter of Lac Ouimet, Regal's Big Girl got spooked coming onto the track for the post parade and dumped jockey Paul Melancon. She then eluded the outriders and galloped loose around the turn before going into the chute and behind the starting gate, which was in place for the six-furlong Ohio-bred maiden special weight event.

Regal's Big Girl then left the chute and headed back around the clubhouse turn toward the other members of the field. The outriders headed her off as she went toward the stretch, but she turned around and galloped back around the turn and, once again, went behind the starting gate, where she was caught by an assistant starter.

Regal's Big Girl was loose for nearly eight minutes and traveled more than a half-mile without her rider. The state vet inspected her and cleared her to start. When questioned before the race as to why Regal's Big Girl was being allowed to start, state steward Herb Clark said, "It really didn't look like she did that much when she was loose, and the vet said she is fine."

The stewards and the vet were proved correct several minutes later, when Regal's Big Girl overcame a slow start and scored a 1 1/2-length victory for her owner-breeder, Phyllis Gayheart, and trainer, Troy Gayheart.

Many fans apparently didn't share the racing officials' enthusiasm for letting Regal's Big Girl start, and she drifted up on the odds board from 7-2 when she got loose to a final price of 8-1. She returned $18 for the win.

* A program error likely contributed to Entangle's $62.40 win mutuel in Tuesday's sixth race.

Lenny Frazzitta Jr., who has won just two of his 140 starts thus far at Beulah's fall meeting, was listed in the program to ride Entangle for trainer Claude Freije, but a rider change was made to Edgar Paucar, who has won 22 races since arriving here two months ago. No change was announced to the public.

After Entangle rallied from well off the pace to score a one-length victory in the mile-and-70-yard event for $4,000 claimers, steward Jimmy Beck noticed that the rider on Entangle was actually Paucar.

Freije apparently made the rider change with Beulah's clerk of scales before scratch time Sunday, but it never made the program. The stewards said they will investigate the incident to find out who was responsible for the error.

* With just four days left in the 67-day fall meeting, Beulah Park is on the verge of making it through a meeting without any cancellations for the first time in over a decade.