01/27/2006 1:00AM

Lukas knows a champion when he sees one

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Six weeks after her previous race, a 14-length victory in the Matron, Folklore returned to Belmont Park to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Driving over to Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 29, trainer D. Wayne Lukas called owner Bob Lewis, who was in California, relegated to watching the races on television.

"I said, 'Get in front of the TV and get the champagne on ice, we're going to kick [butt] and take names,' " said Lukas, who was about to run Folklore for Bob and Beverly Lewis in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Lukas proved prophetic, as Folklore recorded a 1 1/4-length victory in the Juvenile Fillies, a win that propelled her to an Eclipse Award in the 2-year-old filly division. In becoming the 19th Juvenile Fillies winner to earn a divisional championship, Folklore received 257 of the 260 votes cast. There were two abstentions.

became the seventh 2-year-old filly champion trained by Lukas, who entered the Hall of Fame in 1999. Overall, the 70-year-old Lukas has trained 25 divisional champions, three of those being crowned Horse of the Year.

Folklore, a daughter of Tiznow and Contrive bred by the Lewises, added the Juvenile Fillies to victories in the Grade 1 Matron and Grade 2 Adirondack. She also finished second behind Adieu in the Astoria and the Grade 2 Spinaway.

Folklore's success in the Matron and Juvenile Fillies may have been the result of a couple of decisions Lukas made following the Spinaway. The first was to change jockeys. While Cornelio Velasquez had had success on Folklore, Lukas believed his aggressive style might have not best suited the filly. So, Lukas made a change to Edgar Prado.

"I thought we were maybe overriding her a little bit earlier in the year," Lukas said following the Juvenile Fillies. "She's so genuine and gives you so much, and I thought maybe we were asking her in those 5 1/2- and 6 1/2-furlong races to get into it and grab the bit and go a little bit."

With Prado aboard for the first time in the Sept. 17 Matron, Folklore galloped to a 14-length victory at Belmont Park. That night, Lukas made another decision that ultimately proved beneficial for Folklore's Breeders' Cup chances. Rather than run her in a traditional October prep such as the Frizette or Alcibiades, Lukas opted simply to train Folklore up to the race, meaning she would have six weeks between races.

"She put so much into her mornings, and when she ran that monster race here in the Matron, she hadn't even hit the wire and I said, 'That's it,' " Lukas said.

Folklore was fresh, fit, and ready to go in the Juvenile Fillies. Breaking from the rail, she dragged Prado to the front. After dueling Knights Templar through an opening quarter-mile in 22.65 seconds, Folklore began to open up an insurmountable lead. Though she tired somewhat in the final furlong, Folklore had more than enough to hold Wild Fit at bay.

Folklore began her 3-year-old campaign by finishing third in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 16. But Lukas said the filly wasn't totally fit for the race. She is scheduled to run next in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Feb. 11.