06/17/2001 11:00PM

Longest-priced Lady's Jewel scores upset


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Lady's Jewel benefited from a patient ride by Robert Skelly to upset the $37,556 Liberation Stakes on Sunday at Hastings Park. Sent off as the longest price in the six-horse field, Lady's Jewel returned a handsome $44.80 for the win. She outfinished Queen Of My Nights to win by three parts of a length. It was another neck back to 3-5 favorite Castle Mountain.

When an allowance race for 3-year-old fillies scheduled for Sunday didn't fill, trainer Andrew Collins reluctantly switched Lady's Jewel into the 1 1/16-mile Liberation Stakes instead. It's not surprising that Collins wasn't seriously considering the Liberation Stakes for her because Lady's Jewel had just won her maiden. In the Liberation, she would be facing undefeated Castle Mountain and four-time stakes winner Queen of My Nights.

"We suspected that we had a good horse, but we didn't know for sure," said a jubilant Collins. It was the first stakes winner for Collins, and it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for a push from his six brothers and brother-in-law, who own Lady's Jewel in partnership.

"I really didn't want to run her in there, because I felt that she wasn't quite ready to tackle these just yet," he said. "But everyone else wanted to run her there."

It was also the first stakes win at the meet for Skelly. "She broke really quick and then she relaxed beautifully," he said. "Andrew has done a great job with her. She has a mind of her own."

Indeed, he couldn't get the temperamental filly back to the winner's circle to get her picture taken.

Castle Mountain failed to keep her undefeated streak alive, but she still looks like the leader of the sophomore filly division, as she finished full of run after getting away slowly and then trailing the field most of the race.

"She didn't break too badly," said her jockey, Mark Patzer. "It's just that when I took a hold of her to try and get her to rate, she relaxed a bit too much. But when I turned her loose, she made a big move and we had to go wide. She's still learning."

For Castle Mountain's trainer, David Forster, it was the second day in a row that he saddled an odds-on favorite to finish third. Make Contact went off at 80 cents to a dollar in the $35,852 Brighouse Belle's on Saturday, but she couldn't catch front-running Grooms Derby ($7.40), who led every step of the way to score a 2 3/4-length victory. Fabulous Flight was second. It was another neck back to Make Contact.

Forster salvaged the weekend with a win by Makors Mark in the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile at Emerald Downs Sunday.

"All in all, I can't complain," said Forster. "I thought that Make Contact got a little too far out of it and we've been training Castle Mountain to rate all along. I guess she took her lessons a little too seriously."

Mike K nears return

Mike K, British Columbia's horse of the year in 1999, worked a very good six furlongs in 1:11.80 Thursday.

"He's just about ready," said his trainer, Allan Jack. "I'll work him another three-quarters in a day or two and he'll make his first start at Emerald in the Independence Day Handicap July 4."

Mike K missed all of last year with an injury.

* Jack was still smarting from a narrow loss by Greenbaypacker in a $25,000 optional race on Sunday. "A long time ago, I vowed never to bet on one of my horses," the veteran trainer said. "But I couldn't resist betting $200 to win on him Sunday."