08/23/2001 11:00PM

Pompeii explodes, no one picks six


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The two horses with the most to prove in Friday's 54th running of the Personal Ensign Handicap both made statements in the grade 1, $400,000 event for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga. Pompeii proved she has arrived on the scene as one of the top distaffers in the country, and Beautiful Pleasure, the former champion, showed she may yet have something left in the tank.

Pompeii, trained by John Kimmel and ridden by Richard Migliore, stalked the slow and uncontested pace of Beautiful Pleasure and took charge in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over a field of seven that included Serra Lake, the horse that beat her here just four weeks ago in the Go For Wand Handicap.

The win gives Pompeii her first grade 1 victory, and was the eighth overall in her 16-race career. She paid $9.50 to win.

Beautiful Pleasure, who went off as the 2-1 favorite despite three poor efforts in a row, was allowed to coast along on a solo lead in fractions of :24.4, :49.0, and 1:13.2. Beautiful Pleasure still had the lead coming into the stretch when she drifted out badly turning for home allowing Pompeii to come through a gaping hole along the rail. Pompeii lead the rest of the way, but never was able to shake clear of Beautiful Pleasure who continued well in the to the wire in the middle of the track for second. The final time of the race was 2:04.3. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Delaware Handicap winner Irving's Baby in third.

The slow pace clearly took its toll on late-closing Serra Lake, who could finish no better than a non-threatening fourth, a length behind Irving's Baby.

$219,813 pick six carryover

The Personal Ensign capped off a bizarre day of racing which saw two heavy favorites scratched at the gate and several longshot winners. Nobody hit the pick six resulting in a $219,813 carryover for Saturday's Travers card. This is the first double-carryover of the meet, and it could not have come at a better time.

There will also be a $500,000 guaranteed pick four on Saturday's card.