10/22/2001 11:00PM

F&M Turf: Chaste has defied the odds


ELMONT, N.Y. - Chaste will be among the longshots in Saturday's $1 million Filly and Mare Turf, but considering what she has been through, she beat even longer odds just to make it into the race.

Chaste, a 5-year-old, has suffered two condylar fractures of her left hind pastern during her career. The first occurred during her 2-year-old year and resulted in a 15-month layoff, and the second came during the winter of her 3-year-old campaign. It required surgery and cost her another year on the sidelines.

"She's had a lot of problems," trainer Scotty Schulhofer said shortly after Chaste worked four furlongs in 48.37 seconds over the main track on Tuesday. "The first time she got hurt we just stopped on her and gave her time to heal on the farm. But after returning and running several races she opened it up again - the same fracture in the same spot. So this time we operated and inserted screws to hold it together."

Chaste won her maiden and a preliminary allowance on the dirt within two weeks during the winter of 2000, but Schulhofer always thought turf would bring out the best in her.

"Unfortunately it just took us a lot longer than expected to finally get her and keep her on the grass," he said.

Since returning from her second injury and racing on turf, Chaste's form has steadily improved. A daughter of Cozzene, she first showed she might be a Breeders' Cup prospect when she rallied and finished third behind Penny's Gold in Saratoga's Balston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap. She then punched her ticket into the Filly and Mare Turf by finishing fourth behind Lailani, England's Legend, and Starine in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Handicap at Belmont.

"She's a late-developer and I've tried to take it easy on her because of her injuries, but she has really come along good this summer," said Schulhofer. "We really weren't thinking about the Breeders' Cup until her race at Saratoga. And I was very happy with the way she ran in the Flower Bowl. She'd been away a long time, there was really no pace in the race, but she was still able to close back on the leaders a bit through the stretch."

Schulhofer realizes Chaste will be among the outsiders on Saturday. But he has been around long enough to know the best horse doesn't always win. Especially on Breeders' Cup Day.

"She's got a lot of ability and a lot of try in her," said Schulhofer. "I think she's coming up to her best race, although whether that will be good enough I guess we'll have to wait and see."

McCarron on Crystal Music

Chris McCarron will pick up the mount on Crystal Music from trainer John Gosden in the Filly and Mare Turf as long as Spring Oak remains in the race. If Spring Oak scratches, Frankie Dettori will ride Crystal Music.

Dettori has the call on the Andre Fabre-trained Spring Oak, although he has never ridden her.

Dettori did guide Crystal Music to a victory in Ascot's Group 1 Fillies Mile during her 2-year-old campaign and has ridden her in two of her last three starts, including a second-place finish in the Group 1 Irish Guineas earlier this year.

Crystal Music's trip here was delayed 24 hours because of technical problems with the Federal Express airplane that was supposed to bring her and Mot Juste to New York on Tuesday. With the delay, the two 3-year-old fillies were scheduled to arrive shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning.