11/22/2003 12:00AM

Riskaverse outshines Bien Nicole

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Four-Footed Fotos
Riskaverse, under a fine Cornelio Velasquez ride, slips by pacesetting Bien Nicole late in Saturday's Cardinal.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Four weeks ago, Riskaverse and Bien Nicole were also-rans in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita. But when a field of 12 turned into the stretch Saturday in the $175,200 at Churchill Downs, the pair took center stage, with Riskaverse ultimately emerging as the star of the moment.

Under a terrific ride by Cornelio Velasquez, Riskaverse wore down Bien Nicole to win the 30th running of the Grade 3 Cardinal by three-quarters of a length. Firth of Lorne was another four lengths back in third in the 1 1/8-mile grass race.

Riskaverse, bred and owned by Fox Ridge Farm and trained by Pat Kelly, returned $7.40 as second choice. A 4-year-old Dynaformer filly, Riskaverse maintained ideal inside position when stalking a fairly relaxed pace set by Bien Nicole, then angled out to triumph in what evolved into a two-horse race.

"Everything worked out perfect," said Kelly.

The victory was worth $108,624, raising Riskaverse's career bankroll to $1,000,234. The win also makes her 2 for 2 in Kentucky. In her only other appearance here she won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in Oct. 2002.

Riskaverse, a nonthreatening sixth behind Islington in the Oct. 25 BC Filly and Mare Turf, finished 1 1/8 miles Saturday in 1:50.53 over firm turf. Kelly said she would race again at 5.

Bien Nicole, ninth as the front-runner in the Breeders' Cup, "wasn't quitting," said jockey Don Pettinger. "She got a great trip, and she gave me all she had."

Quick Tip, the defending champion in the Cardinal, was not a serious factor, finishing ninth in her 34th and final career start.

In earlier Saturday races:

* Eugene's Third Son ($2.60) might have earned a berth in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes by winning a third-level allowance under Shane Sellers. The winning time for 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast main track was 1:14.78, just .44 seconds off the track record.

"We'll take a serious look at the Malibu," said Pat Byrne, who trains the Indian Charlie colt for Serengeti Stable. The seven-furlong Malibu is on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.

- Double Scoop ($2.80) notched her fifth win of the year with an easy triumph in a $58,500 allowance. Trained by Rusty Arnold, the 3-year-old filly completed seven furlongs in 1:22.67.

- After several days of carryover, the pick six was hit Saturday. Sixty-three winning tickets, each worth $4,096.20, were sold. Tickets with 5 of 6 paid $35.40.

- The fearsome Bobby Frankel duo of Sightseek and Medaglia d'Oro both have been assigned high weight of 125 pounds for their respective races here this week.

Sightseek will be asked to carry two pounds more than Take Charge Lady in the $300,000 Falls City Handicap, a Grade 2 race to be run here on Thursday. Medaglia d'Oro will spot Tenpins six pounds in the $500,000 Clark Handicap on Friday.

- Kelly said he is leaning toward running Evening Attire in the Clark. Evening Attire was scheduled to work on Sunday at Belmont.