03/18/2005 12:00AM

Next step for Levine filly undecided

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Jill Robin L, shown following her Bonnie Miss win with Jerry Bailey, may be pointed next to the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes on April 15 at Oaklawn.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The news of the passing of veteran trainer Robert Levine on Thursday saddened his many friends throughout the local racetrack community. It also left the status of his Grade 2 stakes winner Jill Robin L, a 3-year-old filly Levine owned in partnership with Robert Braunsdorf up, in the air.

Named after Levine's two daughters, Jill Robin L rallied from the rear of the pack to outfinish In the Gold by a nose to upset the Bonnie Miss Stakes just 12 days before Levine's death. A month earlier, Jill Robin L finished a distant third behind Sis City in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes.

"Right now I'm not sure what's going to happen with the filly," said Robert Levine's son, Bruce Levine, the second-leading trainer in New York. "I think she'll probably come up here with me, but nothing is definite at the moment. I'll sit down with his partner, and we'll begin kicking around the different possibilities."

Levine said Jill Robin L was not nominated to either the Ashland or Kentucky Oaks. He said one option for her next start would be Oaklawn's Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes on April 15.

Braunsdorf had been partners in the business with Robert Levine for more than 40 years.

"We had a good run," said Braunsdorf. "We had some super years together and we had some tough ones, but in all those years we never had a single argument. We had a marvelous relationship."

Braunsdorf said the Bonnie Miss was the first stakes he can remember Levine missing.

"He was looking forward to the race, but when it came time to leave he said he was just too weak to go," said Braunsdorf. "That never happened in all the years we'd been together. He'd never missed a stakes. The win seemed to lift him up. He even went out and celebrated with us when we got home. No matter how sick he was, he never lost his love for the horses."

The last horse Levine ran in his name was Colonel Duncan, who went to the post here in Thursday's first race just hours after word of the trainer's death was received.

Said Braunsdorf, "The last words he said to me Wednesday night were, 'Bob, can you do me a favor and make a little bet on Colonel Duncan for me?' "

Colonel Duncan finished second.

Rampart not ideal for Ashado

Despite its Grade 2 status and $250,000 purse, next Saturday's Rampart Stakes lured only 11 nominations, a group that includes reigning Eclipse Award champion Ashado.

Ashado is one of four fillies and mares that trainer Todd Pletcher nominated to the Rampart, but barring a last-second change of heart, she is not expected to start. The Rampart had traditionally been decided at 1 1/16 miles, but because of the dimensions of the new main track the race must now be run at 1 1/8 miles, and Pletcher said he did not want to bring his champion back from a five-month layoff at that distance. Ashado is scheduled to launch her 2005 campaign April 9 in Oaklawn's Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Pletcher will likely send out Isola Piu Bella as a worthy substitute for Ashado. A Chilean-bred, Isola Piu Bella finished third in her U.S. debut in the Banshee Breeze Stakes but rebounded with an easy victory four weeks later in the Grade 3 Sabin.

Among the other nominees for the Rampart are Pampered Princess and Adobe Gold, the one-two finishers in the Banshee Breeze; D'Wildcat Speed; Miss Coronado; My Dear Lady; and Grab Bag.