06/13/2002 12:00AM

In-foal Spain tries Fleur de Lis


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - You might say that Spain won from here to maternity when capturing her last start.

Spain is in foal, having been bred to Storm Cat shortly after she won the Louisville Breeders' Cup Stakes last month, a development that will preclude her from running a third time in the Breeders' Cup Distaff later this fall.

Clearly, the Thoroughbred population's gain is trainer D. Wayne Lukas's loss.

"I sure would like to take one more shot with her," said Lukas, who saddled Spain to first- and second-place finishes in the last two runnings of the Distaff.

Spain's Louisville B.C. victory pushed her earnings to more than $3.3 million, moving her past Serena's Song and into first place on the all-time filly-mare money-won list.

Even with Spain sure to miss the $2 million Distaff, which will be run Oct. 26 at Arlington Park, the chances still seem good that the Fleur de Lis Handicap will produce a starter or two for the race. The $300,000 Fleur de Lis, the secondary feature on the Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill Downs Saturday, also attracted the highly accomplished fillies Dancethruthedawn and Forest Secrets among a field of eight.

Dancethruthedawn, with Jerry Bailey to ride for trainer Mark Frostad, probably is the strongest Distaff candidate entered in the Fleur de Lis.

Bred and owned by Sam-Son Farm, this 4-year-old filly not only is as blue-blooded as they come - she is by Mr. Prospector out of the champion mare Dance Smartly - but she also has frequently performed to that considerable potential, having won the Queen's Plate and five other races in a career of 12 starts.

Likewise, Forest Secrets already is a Grade 1 winner, having won the Acorn last year. A Forest Wildcat 4-year-old owned by Debby Oxley, Forest Secrets subsequently won the Grade 3 Falls City and Grade 2 Rampart handicaps. She was fifth as the favorite behind Spain in the May 3 Louisville B.C., and although her trainer, John T. Ward Jr., is reluctant to grant her a major excuse, Forest Secrets did miss some training time leading up that race because of a minor foot injury.

The rest of the Fleur de Lis field is Minister's Baby, With Ability, Gal on the Go, Pompeii, and Happily Unbridled. The last two are both owned by WinStar Farm and will be coupled for wagering purposes.

With Ability seems most capable of upsetting the top three favorites. Trained by Mark Hennig, she comes off back-to-back romps in the Next Move and Sixty Sails handicaps.

The Fleur de Lis has developed into a very strong barometer for the Midwest's fillies and mares in recent years. Recent winners include such standouts as Serena's Song (1996), Escena (1998), Banshee Breeze (1999), and Heritage of Gold (2000).