08/04/2001 11:00PM

Saturday Stakes Roundup


Flying Birdie flies home in the Cool Air

MIAMI - Flying Birdie used a combination of her blinding speed and the abbreviated five-furlong distance of Saturday's $54,100 Cool Air Handicap to register an easy 4 1/2-length victory over 4-5 favorite Penny Blues. The race was originally scheduled to be run on the turf, but was moved to the main track because of weeklong rains.

Flying Birdie bumped briefly with longshot Elo's Creek leaving the gate but quickly recovered to open a clear lead over Carmen Urena, who steadied at the start and was never able to show her best turn of foot. Flying Birdie settled into the stretch with a commanding advantage and was never seriously threatened en route to her fourth straight victory and second since being claimed by owner-trainer Happy Alter for $57,500 at Gulfstream Park in February.

Penny Blues, who finished a troubled fourth in the Grade 3 Princess Rooney Handicap in her previous start, never menaced the winner. She was hard-pressed to outfinish Miss Vermont Jet by a head to be second in the field of six fillies and mares. Elvi Gamble, the 121-pound highweight if the Cool Air went as scheduled on the grass, was scratched.

Flying Birdie paid $5.60 after covering five furlongs in 58.73 seconds over a fast track under jockey Jose Rivera II.

"We know she can run on turf or dirt or mud. Now I'd like to find out if she can stretch out," said Alter of Flying Birdie.

"My filly is too quick, I wasn't even asking," said Rivera. "This is the fastest filly I've ridden in Miami. I didn't move a finger in the gate and she was gone."

- Mike Welsch

Woodbine: Confessional again

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Favored American invader Confessional won the Grade 3 Royal North Handicap on Saturday at Woodbine for the second year in a row.

Confessional stalked a three-way pace battle under Ramon Dominguez in the six-furlong turf dash for fillies and mares. Longshots Dreams Go Bye, Sports Flashy, and Bahama Dream vied through splits of 22.11 seconds and 44.86, with Dreams Go Bye emerging with the lead inside the quarter pole.

Confessional found room in midstretch and hit the front at the eighth pole, while Heliotrope was mired in traffic. Heliotrope was steered to the rail once she got clear in the final sixteenth, but her late surge came up a half-length short.

Ahead by a Century rallied from last in the nine-horse field to finish another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Automated and Yes We Do were scratched. The final time was 1:09.10.

"She was very relaxed," said Dominguez of Confessional. "She was just waiting for me to give her a signal to go on. When it opened up in the stretch, she split horses easily. She was very game."

Confessional ($3.60) banked $85,575 of the $143,825 purse for Pin Oak Stable. A 5-year-old by Holy Bull, she is unbeaten in three starts this year for Delaware-based trainer Graham Motion.

- Ron Gierkink

Retama: Boots takes opener on Friday

Boots on Sunday made every pole a winning one Friday in the $35,000 J.R. Straus Memorial, opening-night feature at Retama Park near San Antonio. It was 1 1/2 lengths back in second to Lights on Broadway, who was 7 1/2 lengths clear of third-place finisher Lightening Ball.

Boots on Sunday ($3.20) ran six furlongs over a track rated fast in 1:10.86 after setting fractions of 21.91 seconds for the opening quarter and 45 seconds for the half-mile. He earned $21,000 for the win and improved his record to 11 wins from 22 starts. He has earned $258,915.

Boots on Sunday is owned by Wilton Scott, trained by Danny Pish, and was ridden by Roman Chapa. Opening-night attendance was 4,874.

- Mary Rampellini