03/22/2003 12:00AM

Laurel: Undercover romps


There's no longer any doubt about Undercover's ability to handle nine furlongs.

After twice failing in 1 1/8-mile stakes, 4-year-old filly Undercover ($3.40) overwhelmed four other fillies and mares as she cruised to a 4 1/2-length victory in the $67,250 Gala Lil Stakes at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Mario Pino for trainer Tony Dutrow, Undercover stalked pacesetter Singing Sword for the first six furlongs. Undercover easily passed the tiring Singing Sword and took a two-length lead into the stretch, then widened her advantage while being ridden out to the wire. Her time was 1:50.23.

"I've tried taking my time with her and letting her mature and it's really paying off," said trainer Tony Dutrow. "She's been so successful going two turns so we thought we'd keep her going that way. She has been impressive these last three races and she could really raise the ante later on in the spring. She just might be that good."

Undercover has now won 6 of 11 starts, including the Maryland Million Oaks last September at Pimlico.