11/05/2002 12:00AM

Rain or shine, Bertie's running


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Last week, trainer Steve Flint entered Allamerican Bertie in a turf race with a "main track only" designation. The race stayed on the grass, and Allamerican Bertie was scratched.

But this time around, Flint isn't playing around.

Allamerican Bertie is one of nine fillies and mares entered in the eighth and richest of nine races Thursday at Churchill Downs, a $59,500 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. "Rain, shine, or even a big hole in the turf, we're still running," said Flint.

Allamerican Bertie got very good this summer, romping to victory in the Delaware Oaks, then finishing a close second to Farda Amiga in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. But then a poor effort in the Beldame Stakes knocked her out of consideration for the Breeders' Cup Distaff, a development that Flint thinks might have been a blessing in disguise.

"Nobody was going to beat Azeri that day, anyway," said Flint. And by skipping the Distaff, Flint now has two races for Allamerican Bertie at the Churchill meet: the Thursday feature, followed by her main objective, the $250,000 Falls City Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race on Nov. 28.

"I've got to get a race in her before the Falls City," said Flint. "You'd hate to come into the Falls City off a bad race, so obviously we want her to run well Thursday."

But with such seasoned turf veterans as Solvig, Histoire Sainte, and Sitka set to oppose her Thursday, isn't 3-year-old Allamerican Bertie at a disadvantage, never having raced on turf?

"Her sister, Hurricane Bertie, broke her maiden on the grass [at Ellis Park], and there's some other grass in her pedigree," said Flint. "I honestly think she's going to like it. She's such a classy filly anyway."

Leading jockey Pat Day has the mount on Allamerican Bertie, who will break from the far outside post.

* The lone stakes here this weekend, the $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff on Saturday, is coming up an outstanding race. The fillies and mares track officials are hoping to get for the Grade 2, one-mile race include Adoration, Bare Necessities, Habibti, Roxelana, Trip, and Victory Ride.

- Fans looking ahead to next week are reminded that racing will be conducted Monday at Churchill because of the Veteran's Day holiday. In turn, Tuesday will be dark.

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