10/29/2001 12:00AM

Juvenile Fillies: Tempera leads Godolphin 1-2 punch


ELMONT, N.Y. - When Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing decided to send a string of 2-year-olds to North America last year, it was with the specific purpose of developing horses for the Kentucky Derby.

Heading into 2002, Godolphin has the early favorites for the Kentucky Oaks.

Tempera rallied outside of stablemate Imperial Gesture in deep stretch and outkicked her to the wire by 1 1/2 lengths as Godolphin runners finished one-two in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Bella Bellucci, who finished a half-length in front of You, the 4-5 favorite.

Sophisticat, Take Charge Lady, Habibti, Jealous Forum, and Shesastonecoldfox completed the order of finish.

It was the first Breeders' Cup victories for trainer Eoin Harty and jockey David Flores. It was the second win for Godolphin, which won the 1999 Turf with Daylami.

After coming to the U.S with exclusively colts in 2000, Godolphin came here this year with about 8 to 10 fillies in addition to nearly three dozen colts, according to Harty.

"There's a lot of opportunities for fillies," said Harty, who had outfits in California and Chicago. "It would have been pretty boring just training colts. The emphasis is on colts because they want to win the Kentucky Derby. There's also a Kentucky Oaks as well."

A homebred daughter of A.P. Indy, Tempera had won two of her first three starts, including the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar in August. Three weeks later, Tempera finished a disappointing third as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Aug. 26.

Harty decided that he would just train Tempera to the Juvenile Fillies, skipping the Grade 1 Oak Leaf, Southern California's traditional Juvenile Fillies prep. In giving her the time off, Harty changed her training somewhat, having Flores work the filly slower in the mornings.

"I thought she needed the time to settle her down mentally," Harty said.

As expected, Shesastonecoldfox shot out to the front, but she was hounded by Take Charge Lady, and the two were heads apart through fractions of 23.50 and 46.80 seconds. Bella Bellucci tracked along the inside while Imperial Gesture and Tempera were fourth and fifth along the outside down the backstretch.

Bella Bellucci, under Gary Stevens, made the lead 4 1/2 furlongs out, but was soon tackled by Imperial Gesture and Tempera. Imperial Gesture forged to the front at the eighth pole, but could not hold off Tempera.

Tempera covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.49, eclipsing the stakes record of 1:42.11 set by Countess Diana in 1997. She returned $25.80 to win. The exacta paid $768.

Imperial Gesture was sent off at 53-1 in part because Harty said he was planning to run her in Sunday's Tempted instead.

"She's really blossomed here," Harty said. "She's just been super aggressive in the mornings. There's only one Breeders' Cup, we said let's take a shot."

The biggest disappointment in the field was You, the 4-5 favorite, who sat behind the speed duel, but offered nothing in the stretch. She was beaten 5 1/2 lengths. On Sunday, trainer Bobby Frankel said You had come out of the race with a temperature of 102.3 degrees.

"She was in tracking position. I was right behind the winner and the horse that finished second," jockey Edgar Prado said. "When they kicked it in I tried to follow them, but she stayed right there. The only thing I can say that was different today was that she was a little pumped up in the post parade, and normally she was real quiet."

Tempera and Imperial Gesture left for California on Monday. Beginning Nov. 5, they will begin serving a month in quarantine at Fairplex before leaving for Dubai to begin their 3-year-old season. At that time, Harty will hand over the reins of both fillies to Saeed bin Suroor.

"It's very difficult," Harty said of bidding those horses farewell. "But I know the horses we bought for next year are of the same caliber if not better so that will more than compensate for it."