02/18/2004 1:00AM

Flint barn loaded with tough fillies and mares


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Bernie Flint won the $50,000 Pippin Stakes last weekend at Oaklawn with Drexel Monorail and may run recent stakes winner Ask the Lord in the track's Grade 3, $100,000 Essex Handicap on Saturday. The horses are typical of the quality of the 15 head he has brought to Oaklawn.

"I haven't been here in several years," said Flint, who won back-to-back training titles at Oaklawn in 1992-93. "It's been quite a while. I came with a string of horses this year to give it a try with nothing but good reports about the new racetrack [base] and the increase in purses."

Flint has 50 horses in training and keeps some at Turfway Park and others at the Sports Spectrum in Louisville. In recent years, he has regularly shipped in for stakes at Oaklawn.

He said his barn's strength is its fillies and mares. Drexel Monorail, a 5-year-old by Glitterman, was purchased out of the Keeneland January sale earlier this year by Stoneway Farm, and in her second start for Flint won the Pippin.

"She is a quality mare," he said. "She was scheduled to be a broodmare. That's what we bought her for originally, [but] we're going to run her a few more times and see how she does. If she continues on to do well, then maybe we won't breed her this year."

Drexel Monorail is versatile in that she can run one or two turns. She will be considered for the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup on March 13, and also stakes at Fair Grounds.

"We're leaving our options open on her," said Flint, who credited Craig Singer, her former owner, for giving him valuable insight into managing Drexel Monorail.

Another quality female runner Flint trains is Stoneway, who also races for Stoneway Farm. A 3-year-old by Storm Boot, she has won 3 of 5 starts, and in her last out won the $50,000 Cin Trophy at Turfway Park. She is based in Kentucky, and could run at Oaklawn later on in the Grade 2, $200,000 Fantasy on April 9.

"Every step with her has been upward, and I'm looking forward to keep it going that way," said Flint. "She's a super nice filly."

As for the future, Flint's clients bought a pair of 2-year-old fillies earlier this month at the Ocala Breeders' Sales, including a $260,000 daughter of Petionville. She is a half-sister to Mambo Train, recent winner of the $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby.

Ask the Lord, a 7-year-old by Lord At War, was second in the Essex last year. He won three consecutive starts from October and December, including the $50,000 Prairie Bayou at Turfway. In his last start, he finished fifth in an allowance prep for the Essex on Jan. 24.

"I'm going to sit down and handicap the [Essex] when I get home this evening and see if he fits in there," said Flint. "He's getting a little older, and we want to use our heads and do the right thing with him."

Pie N Burger ponders Essex

Pie N Burger, who has won his last five dirt starts, remains a possible for the Essex. The race would be his first since he won the $150,000 Seabiscuit Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard Oct. 25. He races for the Kagele Brothers and James Bailey.

"I'm going to talk to Tom [Kagele] today and see what he thinks and go from there," said Cole Norman, who trains Pie N Burger. "He's doing good, and he's ready if we do decide to run him, but you would like to have a little easier spot first start back. It's a long year ahead."

Pie N Burger is co-highweighted at 118 pounds with Crafty Shaw. Last year, among his wins was the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

Flint mares in feature Friday

Flint will be in action in the featured ninth race Friday at Oaklawn, a one-mile allowance for fillies and mares worth $35,000. The race drew eight, including Holiday Runner, the runner-up last out in the $50,000 American Beauty who will be stretching out around two turns for trainer Tim Ritchey.

Small Promises and Note Taker will run as an uncoupled entry, and both are making their first starts for Flint. Note Taker was claimed for $50,000 in her last start, when she caught a wet track and finished fifth in a six-furlong race in her first start since July. Her last win came at the one-mile distance she will travel Friday.

Small Promises has been racing at Woodbine. She was fourth in her last start, which came in the $114,000 River Memorial. Small Promises is a winner of $524,856, and she worked a bullet three furlongs in 36.20 seconds Wednesday for her local debut. She will be ridden by Terry Thompson.

Another horse in the race is City Rain, who has won 2 of her last 3 starts for trainer Ron Moquett.

* Sir Cherokee worked six furlongs under Terry Thompson on Wednesday, and is on course for the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap.