06/15/2004 11:00PM

For O'Connell, 'nightmare' results in banged-up filly


MIAMI - Trainer Kathleen O'Connell could see trouble coming for Tiz a Dancer in Saturday's Office Queen Stakes before it even happened.

"They were crawling up front, and she was trapped behind the leaders on the rail," O'Connell recalled. "I could see it all unfolding. It was like a horrible nightmare."

Jockey Abdiel Toribio eventually angled Tiz a Dancer three wide in an attempt to find racing room as the field turned into the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile Office Queen. Approaching the eighth pole, Adobe Gold, who herself had been blocked along the inside behind Alarkandadove, bulled her way out to further tighten up the already-bunched field. When Ladyinareddress, on the extreme outside, lugged in slightly under right-hand pressure, Tiz a Dancer's fate was sealed.

In an instant, Tiz a Dancer clipped heels, stumbled badly, and unseated Toribio. Ladyinareddress ultimately went on to win the race with Adobe Gold finishing second. Following a 15-minute stewards' inquiry and a claim of foul by Toribio, who somehow managed to escape serious injury, Adobe Gold was disqualified from second and placed last while Ladyinareddress's number remained up as the official winner.

Several days later, O'Connell was still seething over the incident.

"It's a miracle my filly didn't break her neck," said O'Connell. "I can't believe she didn't flip over completely the way she stumbled like that. Fortunately, she's a very athletic filly. As it is, she was cut down in behind and banged up pretty good even though she was wearing four bandages. Her hocks are still blown up, and I'm worried about a hock infection which can turn into a pretty serious problem. I'm also looking at a filly who could be mentally destroyed because of what happened."

The disqualification of Adobe Gold was little consolation for O'Connell's loss.

"Despite all the trouble my filly had been in from the start of the race I still think she was going to be right there and could have won it before she got cut down," said O'Connell. "Frankly I was surprised both horses, Adobe Gold and Ladyinareddress, weren't disqualified."

Tiz a Dancer also encountered trouble when she finished fourth against much the same field last month in the Castlebrook Stakes, but had rebounded to easily defeat entry-level allowance company by five lengths just nine days later. A homebred daughter of West Acre, she is owned by Gil Campbell.

"It's really too early to tell when I might get her back to the races," said O'Connell. "Right now I have to take it day by day."

Homeister to resume riding Friday

Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. also escaped serious injury Saturday when her mount, Miss Lizzie Tish, broke down on the lead near midstretch in the seventh race. Homeister took off all her mounts through Tuesday but is expected to return when racing resumes here Friday.

Despite taking a nasty spill and almost being run over by another member of the field, Homeister showed compassion by remaining with the stricken Miss Lizzie Tish and holding her head until help could arrive. The 4-year-old filly ultimately was euthanized as the result of injuries she sustained in the fall.

French Village wins 2004 debut

French Village passed her first test as a 3-year-old with flying colors on Monday, rallying to an impressive five-length victory over older horses in the Vague Memory Stakes. The outing was the first for French Village since Oct. 11, when she finished well behind Chatter Chatter in the My Dear Girl Stakes as she attempted to complete a sweep of the 2003 Florida Stallion series.

Ride Her Out, another 3-year-old filly who had not started since finishing second in the My Dear Girl, also launched her 2004 campaign on Monday with a performance eerily similar to that of French Village. Facing older rivals under second-level allowance conditions, Ride Her Out also won by five lengths, covering six furlongs a mere .14 seconds faster than French Village.

Both French Village and Ride Her Out are eligible for the $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes on July 10.

Chatter Chatter, who has yet to open her 3-year-old season, edged ever closer to her return after working five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Wednesday.

Rematch in feature race

Bourbon N Blues and Sami's Magic, who finished first and second, less than a length apart in the Prank Call Stakes on May 31, will renew acquaintances under similar conditions in Friday's $40,000 Naked Greed Stakes carded at five furlongs over the turf.

The two speedsters will likely have to hold off Gin Rummy Champ, who has finished second in each of his last four starts including the 1 1/16-mile Simply Majestic Stakes on May 22.