11/23/2001 12:00AM

Flick can stalk her way to win


NEW ORLEANS - The developing Flick, the stakes-placed Purple Princess, and the speedy Right Spice form the backbone of Sunday's $60,000 Pontalba Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, though neither can the three other entrants in the Pontalba be eliminated. File the race under "closely matched."

At 5 1/2 furlongs, the Pontalba would figure to reward speed. But there might be too much of it in this year's running. With three confirmed front-runners in the race, Flick, and the stalking style she revealed in her most recent start, has a reasonable chance of picking up her first stakes win.

A Dehere filly owned by James Stone, Flick has started three times, running well in each race. Trapped along a dead rail in her Aug. 31 debut at Arlington, she held on well to be third, and she improved in her second start to win a maiden race at Keeneland. The filly who was second that day, Lake Lady, flattered Flick when she won a Churchill allowance race Wednesday by more than 11 lengths.

Flick finished second Oct. 25 at Keeneland and was flattered again when the filly who beat her by a neck, Ghost Queen, returned to win a stakes.

Frank Bernis, an assistant to trainer Tom Amoss, said Flick has continued to train well since shipping into Fair Grounds. "She ran two hard races in Kentucky, so we've kind of been taking it easy on her here," Bernis said. "She's plenty fit."

Eddie Martin, who rode Flick in her debut, regains the mount Sunday.

Purple Princess will be the first stakes starter for trainer Todd Pletcher since he sent a string of horses here this season. Purple Princess developed early, winning her maiden on July 26 at Saratoga, and most recently finished second in the Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland. That race, however, was not especially strong, and Purple Princess has done her best running on the lead.

Sunday, that could put her in a dual with the unbeaten Carson's Baby and Right Spice. Up until this start, owner Diane Perkins had trained Right Spice, but since Perkins does not send horses to Fair Grounds, the filly has wound up in Frankie Brothers's barn. Right Spice won a six-furlong Keeneland allowance race by four lengths but ran poorly in her last start, the Green River Stakes, a turf route race. She is perhaps better drawn on the outside than Carson's Baby, a speed horse who has drawn the rail.

Victory Road, cuts back in distance for the first time in four starts, and the maiden Humble Charlotte complete the field.