08/29/2001 11:00PM

Lakeside Cup right here, right now


Lakeside Cup might always be more accomplished than the seven fillies who will face her in the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes. Or she might not be.

But as far as Steve Flint is concerned, the right here and the right now is what will count most Saturday when Lakeside Cup, already a seasoned veteran with six races behind her, goes as a solid favorite in the Bassinet, the six-furlong race that begins the richest weekend of racing this year at River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Lakeside Cup, with veteran Danny Cox to ride, has been heavily raced but soon will be getting a deserved break, said Flint, who serves as the main assistant to his father, trainer Bernie Flint. "She's sound and she's small, only about 14 hands," the younger Flint said Thursday as training wound down at Churchill Downs. "All these other fillies are going to start going long real soon, but not her. She's going to get about a two-month break. We'll look toward Gulfstream next winter for her."

Lakeside Cup earned her first stakes win in her most recent start when she dead-heated for the win with Playing 'n Gold in the Ellis Park Debutante. Before that race she had finished second in the Schuylervile at Saratoga, second in the Churchill Debutante, and third in the Kentucky Breeders' cup at Churchill.

Victory in the Bassinet, would give Bernie Flint an unprecedented fourth in the race. The stable won three Bassinets in a row from 1989-91.

Because of her impressive record in stakes company, Lakeside Cup "looks like she's head and shoulders above the rest," said trainer Frank Brothers, who has the probable second choice in Bema, a Pulpit filly who has not raced since winning May 13. "This filly popped a little splint after she won, so that's why she hasn't surfaced since. It's a tall order to get any horse to win off the layoff, but we're going to give it a try."

Shane Sellers will be in to ride Bema.

Two other Churchill shippers, Molly B Wild and Mystery at Sea, help fill out the Bassinet, which frequently has been won by Kentucky fillies. Molly B Wild won her last start on turf after being overmatched in previous attempts on dirt, "so we'll find out if it was the turf or if she's just gotten to doing better," said Debbie Holthus, assistant to her father, trainer Bob Holthus.

Dave Vance, who won the Bassinet last year with eventual Eclipse Award winner Caressing, said he is "not having those kind of dreams this year" with Mystery at Sea, a maiden in two starts. "If I can get this filly stakes-placed, I'd be happy."

Representing the local hopes is Joanies Bella, an Ohio-bred who captured the restricted Ta Dah Stakes at River Downs on July 21.

The Bassinet is the filly counterpart to River's signature race, the $200,000 Cradle Stakes, which will be run for the 25th time Monday.