10/26/2006 12:00AM

Mauralakana an able sub for Biancone


CHICAGO - It has become increasingly apparent that trainer Patrick Biancone intends to run Gorella, one of the best female turf horses in the country, in the Breeders' Cup Mile rather than the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Asi Siempre, another graded-stakes-class female in the Biancone arsenal, almost certainly is headed to the BC Distaff, though she, like Gorella, was entered in the Filly and Mare Turf, with the race listed as second preference.

Biancone, however, has a Plan C for the Filly and Mare Turf - the 3-year-old filly Mauralakana, who not two weeks ago was declared by her trainer to be a horse for the 2007 Breeders' Cup, but not this year's edition. But when pre-entries were announced earlier this week, there was Mauralakana, entered with first preference for the Filly and Mare Turf, second preference in the Mile.

"My belief is that only stupid people don't change their minds," Biancone succinctly replied to a query concerning the Mauralakana flip-flop.

No one is calling Biancone stupid. His stable lacks the numbers of a Todd Pletcher, a Doug O'Neill, even a Bill Mott. Through Wednesday, Biancone was tied for 82nd among U.S. trainers with 61 wins on the season. But many of the 270 horses he has started during 2006 have run in rich stakes races, and measured by earnings, the Biancone operation leapfrogs most of the competition: His stable has amassed more than $4.8 million in purses, the 11th-best national total.

That has not happened by taking an imprudent approach and running horses over their head. Nor has it come about by passing up spots where a developing horse might have a shot, even if she is far from a lock. So it is with Mauralakana, imported from France late this summer. Mauralakana finished a good third to Karen's Caper and Pommes Frites in the Sept. 23 Noble Damsel at Belmont, her U.S. debut, and closed strongly for second on Oct. 7 in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. That was a performance good enough to earn a Breeders' Cup berth - the QE II third- and fourth-place finishers, Quiet Royal and Germance, are Filly and Mare Turf-bound - but Biancone figured his horse might have flattened out from the effort.

"She's a young horse, she ran a very good race, and I don't know her that well because I had her only eight weeks before then," Biancone said. "But she was out of her skin last week, and she just has trained so well. We talked about it, and we decided to go. But it was the filly that decided more than me - I like my horses to do the talking."

The "we" of Mauralakana's ownership has in fact undergone a change. Owned in France and for her first two races here by a French acquaintance of Biancone, Maurice Hassan, a half-interest in Mauralakana was sold last weekend to three other Biancone clients, Lewis Laken, Richard Giacopelli, and the Fab Oak Stable.

It looks like they bought themselves a Breeders' Cup horse.