03/12/2005 12:00AM

No one can catch Summerly

Email
Horsephotos
Summerly solidifies her credentials as one of the nation's top 3-year-old fillies by scoring a wire-to-wire, 4 3/4-length win in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

NEW ORLEANS - Summerly continued her ascension among the nation's elite 3-year-old fillies on Saturday by scoring her third straight and most important victory, a gate-to-wire triumph in the Grade 2, $300,000 .

The race looked Summerly's to take - on paper, she was the only speed - and it could not have played out any better in her favor.

Summerly was left unpressured on the front end and clicked off fractions of 24.45 seconds, 49.04, and 1:13.37 for the first six furlongs. Jockey Jerry Bailey had her neck bent in half until that point, and when he finally let out a notch in the reins, Summerly immediately quickened and opened a lengthy advantage. Bailey took her in hand with a sixteenth of a mile to go, and Summerly crossed the wire with her ears moving back and forth like a radar dish, seeking rivals who never materialized.

Summerly ($3), the heavy favorite, finished 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.79 and defeated runner-up Carlea by 4 3/4 lengths. Runway Model, the second choice, finished another half-length back in third. Soul Search, Eyes on Eddy, and Enduring Will completed the order of finish.

"Lovely, just lovely," a beaming trainer Steve Asmussen said as he stood on the track awaiting Summerly to return to the winner's circle. "She comes home quickly."

"She ran her race," Asmussen said minutes later. "She was away well, there was no pressure, and she came home nicely. When they hung up 24 and change, she had no excuses.

"It was similar to her last two races. There's a lot to build on."

Asmussen said Summerly would be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks on May 6. He said he was not sure if Summerly would race again before the Oaks.

"The only possibility would be the Ashland," Asmussen said of Keeneland's major race for 3-year-old fillies on April 9.

Summerly, a 3-year-old daughter of Summer Squall, has now won 4 of 6 starts.

Runway Model was making her first start since Nov. 27. A late-runner, she had no chance the way the pace came up.

"She kept trying," said her rider, Rafael Bejarano, "but the other one in front kept going."