05/04/2006 11:00PM

Lemons Forever pulls $96.20 upset in Oaks

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Lemons Forever and Mark Guidry surge to victory in Friday's Kentucky Oaks in front of 108,000.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A few days before the 132nd on Friday, trainer Dallas Stewart wondered aloud about how Lemons Forever, the longshot filly he brought into the Grade 1 race, could overcome the far outside post in a field of 14 3-year-old fillies.

"You really got to run from there, don't you," said Stewart, perhaps with feigned angst. "How are you going to do that?"

Lemons Forever had all the answers Friday at Churchill Downs, where she became the longest-priced winner in Oaks history. With veteran jockey Mark Guidry aboard, Lemons Forever rallied from far back, circling the field to stun an ontrack crowd of 108,065, second-largest in Oaks history, with a 1 1/2-length triumph over Ermine.

Bushfire finished third, another 1 1/4 lengths behind Ermine, but was subsequently disqualified and placed sixth for interfering with Red Cherries Spin in the stretch. Wait a While was elevated from fourth place to third, and Wonder Lady Anne L was moved up from fifth to fourth. Balance, the 8-5 favorite, faded badly on the far turn after racing in mid-pack to finish 11th.

Lemons Forever, a Lemon Drop Kid filly owned in partnership by Stewart and three members of the Horton family - Leon, Willis, and Terry - returned $96.20 to win.

Lemons Forever had won 2 of 5 previous starts, with her previous race being a third-place finish in the Bourbonette Stakes. The Grade 1 Oaks, which was worth $426,479 to Lemons Forever's owners from a total purse of $755,900, was her first stakes win.

Miss Norman and Diplomat Lady led early, with Bushfire and Wait a While holding good positions to strike. In the far turn, the late runners began menacing as the front-runners grew leg-weary, and after Ermine, a 10-1 shot, loomed the biggest threat leaving the eighth pole, Lemons Forever surged past on the outside to finish in 1:50.07 over a fast track.

"Turning for home, I knew I was on pretty much a winner," said Guidry. "The last eighth of a mile she really accelerated."

For Stewart, the former longtime assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, the Oaks represented the highlight of his solo training career, which dates to 1997. Stewart, who now lives in Louisville, said that although he trained Unbridled Elaine to win the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2001, "This was big," he said. "The others, they weren't big like this. This is big time."

The previous longest-priced Oaks winner was Lemco, a 40-1 shot, in 1903.