06/02/2007 12:00AM

Sands Point ends in dead heat

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ELMONT, N.Y. - A furious stretch rally by Rutherienne and a gutsy effort by the inexperienced Bit of Whimsy were both rewarded as the two 3-year-old fillies finished in a dead heat for win in Saturday's Grade 3, $109,000 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park.

It was a half-length back to Classic Neel in third. She was followed in the order of finish by Sharp Susan, Tears I Cry, and Survived.

Rutherienne, a daughter of Pulpit owned by Virginia Kraft Payson and trained by Christophe Clement, won her third stakes and recorded her fourth win from five career starts. Bit of Whimsy, a daughter of Distorted Humor owned by Gerald McManis and Joyce Young and trained by Barclay Tagg, was making her stakes debut and only her third career start.

Under Edger Prado, Bit of Whimsy stalked the pace-setting Tears I Cry through six furlongs in 1:14.10 over a firm Belmont inner turf course. At the three-eighths pole, Classic Neel made a three-wide move, which forced the pace as she, Bit of Whimsy, and Tears I Cry turned for home together.

Classic Neel came in on Bit of Whimsy and put a head in front of that rival in upper stretch, but Bit of Whimsy battled back and put Classic Neel and Tears I Cry away inside the eighth pole.

Meanwhile, Rutherienne, who trailed early, came with a flying finish down the center of the course and just got there at the wire. The final three furlongs of the race went in 34.43 seconds and the final time for 1o1/8 miles was 1:48.53. Rutherienne returned $3.10, Bit of Whimsy $8.10.

"It was a great performance," Tagg said of Bit of Whimsey's race. "We thought she was something special. The numbers didn't really show it yet. I thought, 'Well she is in a tough spot. If she continues to move forwardly, why she's probably be right there.'"

Clement believes the slow fractions and firm course condition worked against Rutherienne, but her talent came through at the wire.

"She's a very good filly," he said. "Not many 3-year-old fillies have won three stakes by June 2."

o Heavily favored Ice Cool Kitty ($3.10) slipped through an opening along the inside turning for home under Edgar Prado and drew clear to a five-length victory over Stolen Star in the $67,750 Wendy Walker Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.