10/30/2006 12:00AM

Last chance for Film Maker to reach the top

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Grade 1 winner with earnings of more than $1.7 million, a mare that has given her human connections four full seasons of thrills in an era when one-year-and-done is the name of the game. Who wouldn't want to be around a horse like Film Maker?

For all that, Film Maker's sweet career has a tinge of bitter, at least for owner Don Adam, a Texas businessman who has never had a horse this good before. No doubt, Film Maker is among the top grass mares in the United States - if not the world - but since winning the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October 2003, Film Maker has been shut out in Grade 1 races. She was second in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and third in the race last year, and this season has been no less excruciating - a troubled second in the Grade 1 Beverly D., a nose loss Oct. 7 in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl.

"It's been unbelievable - in fact it breaks my heart, quite frankly," said Adam. "She tries so hard every time, and she's right there."

The way things look, Film Maker, barring misfortune, should be right there again on Saturday at Churchill when she makes her third and final appearance in the Filly and Mare Turf, this time as a 6-year-old. Only 47 other horses have started in at least three Breeders' Cup races, and most of those made their first appearance in one of the juvenile events. Film Maker, who will be retired after this season, has done it all as an older horse.

Graham Motion, Film Maker's trainer, has been with her every step of the way, since Film Maker made her career debut in midsummer of 2002, finishing third in a dirt sprint at Colonial Downs. At 2, Film Maker was nothing exceptional, Motion said, but when she quickly won a two-turn turf maiden race early in her 3-year-old year at Gulfstream, Motion took note.

"I was pretty impressed," he said. "And as the year went on, I was more and more impressed."

Film Maker is by Dynaformer, the sire of Perfect Drift, who's scheduled to make his fifth Breeders' Cup appearance this weekend. Motion describes her as a mare that, while somewhat "quirky" to ride in a race, "always has been such an easy horse to be around." Film Maker takes care of herself and appears to be sensible enough - and Motion cannot give a comprehensive account for her string of near misses in big races.

"Obviously, a lot of it is luck," he said, "but I can't say really why she's come so close so many times."

Adam would not want any other trainer pondering such questions. Adam, tied into the top of the U.S. aristocracy, operates The Adam Corp., a banking and business conglomerate, in his native Texas. He came fairly late to the racing game, getting started on the advice of uber-horseman Will Farish when the two were together in 1994 at Kennebunkport, Maine, on a project related to former President George H.W. Bush. It was Will Farish's son Bill Farish who recommended Motion as a trainer. Adam extols virtues quickly apparent to anyone who spends more than five minutes around Motion: Good horseman, good person.

"I think Graham Motion is one of the fine young trainers, but he's one of the finest young men that I know," said Adam. "He's a great family man, a great father - he has all the traits I look for, and besides that, he's a heckuva horseman."

Now, if Motion and jockey Edgar Prado could just coax that elusive major victory from Film Maker before she becomes part of Adam's broodmare band.

"I'm not sure it would erase everything that's happened with her," said Adam, "but my disappointments would be subsided, I would say."