12/05/2002 12:00AM

Not all the top mares have headed south


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Many of Kentucky's best mares have already gone south for the winter to warm-weather tracks such as Gulfstream Park in Florida and Fair Grounds in Louisiana. Yet some top mares still remain, and a sampling of those will race in Saturday's $50,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Freefourracing, a stakes-winning filly with Grade 1 experience, heads the field. A 4-year-old daughter of French Deputy, Freefourracing was once regarded as a premier race mare. She won the Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland as a 2-year-old in October 2000, and was briefly considered a possibility for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies later that fall. Injuries sent her to the sidelines, however, and she did not return until October of last year. Later, she proved to be a minor player in graded stakes company.

Sent to Kentucky this fall to join the stable of trainer Bernie Flint, she has regained her winning ways. Freefourracing won an allowance at Turfway in September and an allowance at Churchill Downs last month.

Her lone off-the-board finish in Kentucky came when she was fourth in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland in October. That day she was fourth, beaten more than nine lengths by French Riviera. Brian Peck rides.

One of the fillies she failed to handle in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes was Don't Countess Out, an overachieving 3-year-old who finished second to French Riviera, nearly four lengths in front of Freefourracing. Unlike Freefourracing, she has never been hyped as a top filly yet has become a stakes winner.

Besides a second in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, Don't Countess Out won the Weekend Delight Stakes at Turfway and the Iowa State Fair Stakes at Prairie Meadows. Although those stakes came against weaker opposition than she faces Saturday, she won impressively and ran quickly.

This is reflected in her Beyer Speed Figures. In each of her last five dirt races, Don't Countess Out has earned a Beyer Figure of 94 or greater. Regular rider Terry Thompson has a return call aboard Don't Countess Out, who hasn't raced since the Thoroughbred Club of America in late October.

Despite the strength of Freefourracing and Don't Countess Out, the six-furlong Holiday Inaugural is not a two-horse race. Emily Ring is a speedy allowance filly coming off a pair of excellent races at Churchill Downs, and Chicago invader Cauy comes off four consecutive victories. Seven other fillies are also entered, including Keepondealing - an entrymate of Freefourracing.

The Holiday Inaugural is the 10th race on a 12-race card.