06/07/2001 11:00PM

La Recherche takes on elders


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Now is the time of year when 3-year-olds begin to have little choice but try their elders.

Case in point: La Recherche, a promising 3-year-old filly who has been competitive in recent turf stakes restricted to her age group. On Sunday, trainer Tom Amoss will send the Sky Classic filly against older rivals in the ninth-race feature at Churchill Downs, a $46,800 turf allowance.

La Recherche was good enough to finish second in the April 22 Palisades Stakes at Keeneland, then fifth with a spot of trouble in the May 12 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill. La Recherche, whom Amoss has said owns the potential to become a consistent stakes-caliber performer, should find the second-level conditions of the Sunday feature to her liking. She will face nine others in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Also carded for Sunday is the third leg of the Cutter Championships for starter-allowance sprinters, which goes as race 3.

Miracle fined $2,000

Trainer Norman Miracle Jr. has been fined $2,000 by the Kentucky stewards for his role in the recent mixup of two 2-year-olds from his stable. Miracle is the only person faced with disciplinary action.

Miracle is the trainer of the two colts, one by Mi Cielo and the other by Supremo; both colts are owned by Gus Goldsmith.

While the Supremo colt finished last in his first and only start at Churchill Downs May 26, it was later discovered that he was actually the Mi Cielo colt.

The mixup was discovered June 1 by horse identifier Barbara Borden when the Supremo colt - erroneously listed under the name Weekend Miracle, with the Mi Cielo pedigree - was scheduled to make his career debut at Churchill. The colt was scratched, and a Kentucky Racing Commission investigation followed. The matter since has been corrected by the commission and The Jockey Club.

Chief steward Bernie Hettel said Friday the stewards arrived at the $2,000 figure because "basically anything that's in a kindred-type situation, the fine has been $1,000. Mr. Miracle was charged with two violations, one for each horse."

Hettel said the investigation determined that the mixup was the result of an honest mistake. "Obviously there were some terrible complications with it," he said. The identities of the two horses "became confused from the day of purchase, and that confusion was perpetuated with each passing moment."

Coincidentally, a very similar mixup was uncovered June 1 at Woodbine in Canada involving two 2-year-old fillies trained by Michael Wright.

Secret Status going in Fleur de Lis

Secret Status, beaten as the odds-on favorite in the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap, will try to make amends as the likely favorite in the $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap, the best race on a terrific undercard next Saturday.

Saudi Poetry, upset winner of the Louisville BC, also is expected for the Grade 3 Fleur de Lis. Other secondary features are the $150,000 Regret Stakes and the $100,000 Northern Dancer Handicap.

The showcase event is the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, the Grade 2 race that will match Captain Steve and Unshaded.

o The only winning ticket in the pick six Thursday was purchased in California. The winning combination of 1-4-1-5-1-1 returned $144,160.90 for a $1 wager, eighth-highest in track history. The winning ticket used four winning favorites and longshots that returned $34.80 and $73.80.