11/18/2003 12:00AM

Hard-working girl

Henna Haroon/Coady Photography
Just a 2-year-old, America America has raced in four countries and over 13 different tracks.

If life on the road has taken a toll on 2-year-old filly America America, it did not show last Saturday night. In her 16th start of the year, she turned in her most impressive effort when she beat male rivals in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile at Sam Houston Race Park.

America America has traveled the globe this year, racing in four different countries and over 13 different tracks. It's a schedule that is unheard of for a young horse these days. But there is precedent. Seabiscuit started 35 times as a 2-year-old, for example. Citation ran 20 times at 3, and Count Fleet ran 15 times at 2.

All of the above were colts, granted, but America America acts like one, according to her owner and trainer, Franck Mourier. A small filly with an attitude, America America's tough constitution, coupled with a light training regimen, has helped her remain competitive in most of her races all year.

America America, who was purchased for $5,000 as a yearling, has won three times, finished second six times, and third three times for earnings of $298,640.

Mourier, a 34-year-old native of France who operates a one-horse stable with his wife, Capucine, will be the first to admit America America has followed a heavy schedule.

"Actually, if she belonged to an owner, he would have taken her [away] from me," he said. "To run so many times is a very unusual pattern, but really, the filly, she loves the running. Physically and mentally, she's really a racehorse."

The business of training is not an exact science, and what works for one horse does not always work for another. This is something Mourier, who has a degree in physiology, has recognized with America America. Last winter, he put America America through a workout schedule designed to strengthen her bone structure, which needs a certain amount of stress to develop. As she began racing on a regular basis, however, that schedule changed.

"Since she has been running, she has a very light program," he said. "We just pony her. She travels with a pony who goes everywhere with her. She will just walk and jog with the pony."

Her longevity also might have been enhanced by racing in Europe, where Mourier is based for six months each year. She made seven starts there, and the races did not take as much out of her as races in this country might, Mourier said. In Europe, America America did not receive medication, which sometimes can drain a horse, and Mourier thinks the courses in Europe are kind to a horse. There also was a more relaxed pace early in those races than in many races for young horses in America.

"I think it keeps horses sound longer," he said.

Mourier, who has worked under a handful of European and American trainers, was thrilled with the effort America America turned in for the Texan Juvenile, which was her first stakes win. Despite being boxed in the stretch, she split horses and finished fast.

"She likes to have other horses around her to stay competitive," he said. "When other horses make contact with her, she fights that way. She has a very tough temperament. She behaves more like a colt. She hates to be brushed. She hates to have a bath. She doesn't like to be touched."

Mourier said America America did not seem tired after her Sam Houston victory. Her next road trip could be the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.

"It's difficult to make plans with her because she's been running since April with no break," Mourier said. "I'm sure she'll ask me to stop one day, but she hasn't yet."

America the dutiful

America America's 2003 past performances
Nov. 15 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile* 1st
Nov. 7 Delta Downs Chargedupsycamore 5th
Oct. 26 Belmont Miss Grillo 9th
Oct. 8 Keeneland Allowance 1st
Sept. 20 Woodbine Mazarine-G2 2nd
Sept. 14 Woodbine Summer-G2* 4th
Sept. 6 Woodbine Natalma-G3 3rd
Aug. 13 Salisbury (GB) Stonehenge* 2nd
July 24 Sandown (GB) Star 2nd
July 18 Newbury (GB) Rose Bowl* 2nd
July 11 Chester (GB) Allowance* 3rd
July 4 Hamburg (Ger) Sierstorpff-Rennen* 2nd
June 28 Newmarket (GB) Empress 5th
June 18 Ascot (GB) Queen Mary-G3 8th
April 24 Gulfstream Mockingbird* 2nd
April 6 Gulfstream Maiden* 1st
*- raced against males