10/11/2002 11:00PM

Kitty Knight, a fast filly to watch


Xtra Heat comes into the Breeders' Cup Sprint as the fastest filly sprinter in the country. The 2-year-old filly Kitty Knight isn't nearly as accomplished or famous as Xtra Heat, but based on Kitty Knight's career debut, she may have similar potential.

Kitty Knight, who comes out of a maiden race that featured wickedly fast fractions, is the most intriguing entrant in the $60,000 Heavenly Cause, one of two $60,000 stakes for Maryland-bred 2-year-olds on a special Columbus Day 10-race card at Laurel Park.

Kitty Knight, trained by Allen Jerkens, was last at the start after she broke awkwardly in her career debut at Belmont Park on Sept. 27. In a six-furlong race where the opening fractions were 21.58 and 44.75 seconds - comparable to the pace Xtra Heat set winning the Grade 3 Phoenix against males on Oct. 5 - Kitty Knight was able to overcome her poor beginning and drew off to a 2 1/4-length victory, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 75.

The sloppy surface at Belmont the day Kitty Knight ran was much faster than par. But those were still the fastest fractions for any sprint on the program.

Kitty Knight's chief threat could be another filly exiting a New York race. Skipper's Mate, winner of two of her first three career starts, was ambitiously placed in the Grade 1 Matron, where she was no match for Storm Flag Flying, the early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

In her previous start at Delaware, however, Skipper's Mate was a 4 1/4-length winner. Her 68 Beyer that day puts her within range of Kitty Knight.

Butiwillflysomeday, one of five fillies who ran in the Maryland Million Lassie returning in the seven-furlong Heavenly Cause, is the other logical contender in the nine-horse field. She finished third in the Lassie as the favorite and makes her first start for new trainer Simon Purdy.

In the seven-furlong Rollicking for colts and geldings, Cherokee's Boy looms as the odds-on favorite in a field of five off his recent victory in the Maryland Million Nursery.

Bridge Out Again, who finished only 1 1/2 lengths behind Cherokee's Boy, may appreciate the extra furlong after steadily gaining ground in the six-furlong Nursery.

Pud, who has two wins and a second in three starts against much easier company, wheels back in six days for trainer King Leatherbury after crushing claimers by 9 3/4 lengths.