08/29/2003 11:00PM

In Rome takes Bassinet

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CINCINNATI - In Rome drove to victory Saturday in the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes at River Downs, prompting the inevitable questions about whether owner Carl Pollard and trainer Dave Vance had another potential Breeders' Cup winner on their hands.

"Well, I don't know," a smiling Vance said after In Rome wore down a stubborn Down By the Sea to win the six-furlong Bassinet by three-quarters of a length. "I know this is a good filly, a useful filly. The good thing is, she'll get better around two turns, I guarantee it."

Vance trained Caressing to win the 2000 Bassinet for Pollard. Just over two months later, Caressing upset the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at 47-1 to earn a divisional Eclipse Award.

In Rome, ridden by Jeff Johnston, rallied from mid-pack to win the Bassinet. She finished in 1:13 over a fast track and returned $11 as third choice in a field of 11 2-year-old fillies.

Snappy Little Cat finished another 1 3/4 lengths back in third, while Ding's Thing, the 4-5 favorite, faded to eighth after contesting the pace with two other fillies. Ding's Thing, an Ohio-bred trained by Tim Hamm, had won her three prior starts by a combined 22 1/2 lengths.

In Rome, by Saint Ballado, was bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm. Pollard bought her for $190,000 last September at Keeneland.