12/19/2003 12:00AM

Outriders keep tabs on their 'Fortune'


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - John and Michele Treasure sold House of Fortune a week after she was foaled in March 2001. She has seldom ventured far from their sight.

As morning outriders in Southern California, the Treasures have spent most of this year admiring House of Fortune's development into the top 2-year-old California-bred filly.

During the Del Mar meeting, the Treasures saw House of Fortune exercise daily. In the months since, House of Fortune has rocketed to the top of the statebred division, with wins in the Cover Gal Stakes and California Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.

Sunday, House of Fortune makes her graded stakes debut in the Hollywood Starlet for owner Arnold Zetcher and Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally.

Aside from being her breeder, the Treasures have little connection to House of Fortune, who was sold with her dam, So Fortunate, to Tom Baxter, John Treasure said. Still, the Treasures have reaped benefits from breeder awards.

"I figured if she could run, I'd make money on the breeder awards," said John Treasure. "It took a Hall of Famer to do it."

The Treasures acquired So Fortunate at no cost from trainer Bobby Frankel after she failed to make it to the races in the early 1990's. For several years, So Fortunate was bred to modest stallions with modest results. Her best foals before House of Fortune were Wheat Fields ($33,912) and Sweet Fields ($9,287).

But So Fortunate was part of the first crop sent to the millionaire Free House when he went to stud in 2000. House of Fortune, the top foal from his first crop, has won 3 of 4 starts and $154,004. A win Sunday would make her a candidate for the 3-year-old filly classics.

Through the year, the Treasures have discussed with McAnally the development of House of Fortune, who is McAnally's first California-bred stakes winner.

"One time he said, 'I don't know what to do with her,' " said John Treasure of a recent conversation with McAnally. "I said, 'You don't need me to tell you.' "

The Treasures, who have been outriders since 1976, keep two mares on 15 acres in Romoland. Their day typically starts at 3:30 a.m. for a 90-mile drive to Hollywood Park, where they are based. They arrive at around 5 a.m., are on the track when training begins at 5:30 a.m., and get home in time for lunch.

"We miss the traffic both ways," Michele Treasure said.

So Fortunate was the first foal out of Delicate Vine, a Knights Choice mare who won 4 of 5 starts and $390,370 in 1986. During that season, Delicate Vine won the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park, the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park, and the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes at Arlington Park.

Delicate Vine was third in the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita in the final start of her career. She was owned by a partnership that included Frankel.

So Fortunate was trained by Frankel but never started because of ankle problems, Frankel said.

"She was a beautiful filly, but I couldn't get her to the races," Frankel said.

After the Treasures sold her, House of Fortune was sold for $40,000 at the 2002 Del Mar yearling sale from the consignment of Nancy Yearsley. She was bought by Becky Thomas, a Florida pinhooker, and resold to McAnally for $125,000 at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training earlier this year.

House of Fortune races for Arnold Zetcher, the chief executive of Talbot's, a Boston-based women's clothing store.

A win Sunday would give the Treasures their first Grade 1 winner. They won't be there to see it, however - they have booked a snowmobiling trip to northern California, partially paid for by House of Fortune's breeder awards.