05/24/2002 11:00PM

'Jolie' tries to regain old form

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STICKNEY, Ill. - Flamin' Jolie flamed out in his last two starts, but his connections remain excited about the late-blooming 5-year-old gelding's potential, and hope to move him into graded stakes races this summer. But to get there, Flamin' Jolie needs to rebound from a pair of subpar races. To start, he runs in Hawthorne's Monday feature, a fourth-level turf allowance with a $50,000 claiming option.

Flamin' Jolie was one of only six horses entered in the 1 1/16-mile race. Two of the others, Treat Me Doc and Goodnight Run, exit long layoffs, while Mister Volare shows no recent competitive form, and Runaway Victor has developed into a classic second-place horse. That leaves Grandpa Two, who finished third, beaten only a head, in a $50,000 claiming race less than two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, as Flamin' Jolie's primary rival.

But having gone through two of his allowance conditions in statebred races, and with no wins in his last six starts, Grandpa Two may be no match for Flamin' Jolie if Flamin' Jolie bounces back to the form he showed last fall and winter. Before his two recent failures, Flamin' Jolie was in the exacta seven times in a row, winning four of those races, and he reeled off three straight wins on this circuit last year. This winter at Gulfstream, Flamin' Jolie lost a photo for win, then won a photo to clear his third allowance condition.

But at Keeneland in April, Flamin' Jolie finished seventh in an eight-horse field, and in the Overage Stakes here May 18 he was fifth, beaten 10 lengths by the winner, a reformed claiming horse.

But Mickey Goldfine, who trains Flamin' Jolie for owner and breeder Arthur Appleton, hasn't gotten down on Flamin' Jolie. Goldfine said Flamin' Jolie had never shipped and ran before his start at Keeneland, and that the gelding was lost in the race. "He had no idea why he was there," Goldfine said.

Flamin' Jolie is back home now, but Goldfine is hesitant to run him Monday if the Hawthorne turf course is soft. Flamin' Jolie's dud in the Overage came on good turf, and Goldfine said Flamin' Jolie does not kick home strongly on softer going. The turf course here was good again Saturday, but no rain was forecast before Monday.

In any case, Goldfine hopes to get a solid race into Flamin' Jolie in order to point him for the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes on July 4 at Arlington.