04/02/2002 1:00AM

Jostle tries to show she still can run

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Two years ago, Jostle was among the elite of her division and widely considered one of the premier fillies and mares in the country. Friday, Jostle takes the first step toward what trainer Elliott Walden hopes will be a return to those glory days when she launches her comeback in the $75,000 Banshee Breeze Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

won a pair of Grade 1 stakes and came within a whisker of earning an Eclipse Award during her 3-year-old campaign. But she fell upon hard times following her disappointing ninth-place finish in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff, went winless in five starts at 4, and was ultimately purchased by her present connections, the Win Star Farms, for duty as a broodmare this season.

But those plans changed not long after Jostle was switched over to Walden's barn late last fall.

"We ran a bunch of tests on her and none of them said there was any physical reasons why she couldn't go back into training again this year," Walden said by phone from Kentucky. "The owners want horses to race so we decided to give her another chance. We've evaluated her at Payson Park all winter and thus far she's doing great. Training super. We'll have a better idea where we stand after she runs on Friday."

Walden has no lofty expectations for Jostle this year although he's hopeful she will at least prove capable of competing at the graded stakes level once again.

"She might not win a Grade 1 race but I'd like to think she'll at least be a graded stakes-level filly and able to compete in the best races or at least close to them," said Walden. "Right now I'm thinking pretty positively about her."

Jostle will share highweight of 119 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile Banshee Breeze along with Mystic Lady, who will also be making her 2002 debut. Mystic Lady closed out her 3-year-old campaign with three straight victories, including wins in the Grade 2 Cotillion and Grade 3 Honey Bee handicaps. Jostle had won the 2000 Cotillion.

A field of seven or eight older fillies is shaping up for the Banshee Breeze. In addition to Jostle and Mystic Lady, the group consists of Happily Unbridled (114); Bay Street Gal (114); Castlebrook (112); Indy Glory (112), and Lily's Affair (111). Gentille Alouette (111) is also listed as a probable starter.

One mare who was expected to start but will now pass the race is Pearly White, who injured a frog and was withdrawn from consideration, trainer Randy Schulhofer said Monday.

Aventura too ambitious for Quest Star

Walden had also considered sending his 3-year-old prospect Quest Star down from Payson for the inaugural running of the $250,000 Aventura Stakes on Saturday but has now decided to look for other options for his Broad Brush colt.

"I thought the race might be coming up just a little too tough," said Walden.

Among the likely starters for the 1 1/16-mile Aventura are a pair of 3-year-olds who have already defeated Quest Star, Mountain Forum and Marasca, along with Tampa Bay Derby winner Equality. Quest Star finished second, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Mountain Forum, in the OBS Championship on March 18.

Kipperscope no longer ailing

Trainer Rudy Wolfendale reports that Kipperscope has returned to training after contracting a minor infection that forced him to be scratched as the odds-on favorite from a five-furlong allowance sprint on the turf last week. Wolfendale still took home the winner's share of the $46,000 purse when the lesser-regarded half of his entry, True Love's Secret, outlasted multiple Grade 1 winner With Anticipation to post a three-quarter length decision.

"I just didn't want to take a chance running Kipperscope and knocking him out for the next two races, both of which carry $75,000 purses," said Wolfendale. "As things turned out I got lucky and True Love's Secret won the race. I took blood on Kipperscope a couple of days ago and he's back to normal now."

Kipperscope is being pointed for the five-furlong Yankee Affair Stakes on turf on April 13.

"After the turf race here, there is a $75,000 dirt race going six furlongs at Calder and the way he ran on the dirt the last time I think he's got a big chance of winning that one too," said Wolfendale.

Kipperscope, considered primarily a five-furlong specialist last season, led throughout, then drew away through the stretch to win a six-furlong money allowance sprint on the main track by 3 1/2 lengths on March 6, earning a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. He was also second behind Hook and Ladder in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap on the dirt earlier in the meet.

"In his last start we finally got him to slow down the first part of it and he had something left at the end for a change," said Wolfendale, who trains Kipperscope and True Love's Secret for their owner-breeder, Robert Bakerman.

Royal Lad tops allowance feature

Royal Lad, who spoiled the much anticipated comeback of Warners with an easy three-length victory in the Ocala Breeders' Sprint Stakes on March 18, wheels right back against six other 3-year-olds in Thursday's $46,000 allowance feature. Ralph Ziadie trains Royal Lad for owners Cindy and Ron Stengel.

Royal Lad has won three of his last five starts. His competition will include Juggernaut, easy winner of Calder's Foolish Pleasure Stakes at 2, and Barnacle Steve, a distant third in the OBS Sprint.