12/29/2007 12:00AM

Rutherienne captures a close one

EmailMIAMI - Rutherienne capped off a successful but somewhat nerve-wracking afternoon for trainer Christophe Clement with a game neck victory in Saturday's $100,000 Frances Genter Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Calder. Clement came out on top in a similarly tight finish 30 minutes earlier when Bayou's Lassie outlasted Amazing Speed by the same margin in the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap.

Both races were part of Calder's four-stakes Saturday card, dubbed Grand Slam III.

Rutherienne raced closer to the pace than usual in the Grade 3 Frances Genter, engaged Pretoria Light nearing the eighth pole, then narrowly prevailed following a hard duel. Sweet Ransom rallied to finish on even terms with Pretoria Light for second.

Rutherienne covered the 7 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:28.16.

The win was the sixth in eight starts in 2007 for Rutherienne, a daughter of Pulpit, who also captured the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August. Ridden by Rene Douglas, she returned $4.60 as the favorite in a field that scratched down to 11 at the starting gate after Katerbug was injured while being loaded for the race.

"She's a very good filly, and a lucky one, too," said Clement, who trains Rutherienne for owner-breeder Virginia Kraft Payson. "Several of her wins have been by narrow margins like this one. Rene rode a very good race. I had him use her a little more than usual to get position because we noticed in the Pete Axthelm that the turf course was favoring speed. It probably took away a little of her finish, but also left her with less to do at the end."

In the Grade 3 Stage Door Betty, Bayou's Lassie ($6) raced well-placed, eased out to engage the embattled leader, Amazing Speed, in early stretch of the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares, then prevailed in the final strides. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Cindy's Mom, who finished third.

"She's a very tough filly," Clement said of Bayou's Lassie, who ran the distance in 1:46.16. "She got a great ride and a great trip." Elvis Trujillo rode Bayou's Lassie.

Axthelm: Fearless Eagle grabs an upset

Fearless Eagle ($26.40) registered the biggest surprise on the card when he withstood a late charge from Buffalo Man to post a half-length victory in the $100,000 Pete Axthelm. Mysterious Peintre finished third in the 7 1/2-furlong turf race. Sleeping Indian, the 8-5 favorite, was knocked sideways on the first turn by Storm in May and finished fifth in a full field of 12 3-year-olds.

Fearless Eagle rallied four wide from just off the pace to wrest control in early stretch, and finished in 1:27.22. Buffalo Man finished strongly from near the rear of the pack, as did Mysterious Peintre.

Fearless Eagle is trained by Eddie Plesa Jr. for owner Issac Muhtar and was ridden to victory by Eddie Castro.

Chaposa Springs: Cher Ami runs off

Cher Ami used her blazing speed to dominate the $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap by 5 3/4 lengths over 3-2 favorite Change Up.

Cher Ami, a 3-year-old daughter of Lost Soldier, quickly sprinted to an easy lead under regular rider Ariel Smith and increased her lead in the stretch while kept under pressure to the end. Change Up outfinished Running Lass to be second while no match for the winner.

The Chaposa Springs, for fillies and mares, was the fifth stakes victory of 2007 for Cher Ami, who is trained by Larry Bates for the Wirth Brothers. She covered seven furlongs in 1:24.12 and paid $6.20.

"She's so fast it's scary, and she does it effortlessly," said Bates, who said he will consider sending Cher Ami to Santa Anita for the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf on Jan. 26.