07/31/2003 12:00AM

Several seem reluctant to run in Beverly D.


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Owsley set a stakes record winning the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Arlington last weekend, and Bien Nicole, done in by a sharp early pace, ran strongly to finish a length behind her. The connections of both mares are up in the air about running back in the Grade 1 Beverly D. on

Aug. 16, but the direction the race has taken this week may tilt their perspectives.

Out of the Beverly D. is Ipi Tombe, who has an injured leg and is unlikely to start again this season. Also declared from the Beverly D. on Thursday was Dublino, part of a three-horse dead heat for second on Sunday in the Grade 1 Mabee Handicap at Del Mar.

"I don't think she'll run," said Dublino's trainer, Laura de Seroux, who plans on sending Just Wonder for the Secretariat on Million Day. "It would be awfully quick back for her. She's had a lot of racing."

Meanwhile, Bobby Frankel said he would start at least one and perhaps two horses for the Beverly D., but Frankel did not mention the Mabee winner Megahertz as one of the potential starters. Under consideration, however, are four other Frankel-trained fillies - Heat Haze, Tates Creek, Zenda, and Pertusiane. Heat Haze and Pertusiane finished two-three Sunday in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga, where Zenda was an impressive allowance winner in her first start of the year. Takes Creek was part of the Mabee's three-way dead heat with Golden Apples, also possible for the Beverly D.

"I'll have something for the race. I might even send two. They all just went back to the track today," Frankel said Thursday.

Wednesday was Owsley's first day back training after her return trip to trainer Randy Schulhofer's base in New York. Schulhofer said he will choose between the Beverly D. and the Grade 3, $100,000 Glens Falls at Saratoga for Owsley's next race.

"The Beverly D. is in our thoughts," he said Wednesday. "We're going to sit back and see where we are and who's coming. I galloped her today for the first time and she went great."

Bien Nicole appeared to be the controlling speed in the Modesty but got unexpected early company from Flager, who forced her into a quick early pace before fading from contention.

"The way the pace worked out was a bit of a surprise," said trainer Donnie Von Hemel. "But when the other horse [Owsley] came to us, she kicked on and finished up well,"

Even so, Von Hemel said "we're probably leaning more toward the Estrapade," an ungraded $100,000 stakes on Million weekend. "She's up there at Arlington, so we can see what's happening with the Beverly D."

Feast or famine for Fighting Fever

It has been nothing but fits and starts so far for Fighting Fever, who has been as inconsistent as she has been explosive. A 12-length winner of her career debut early this spring at Hawthorne, Fighting Fever was a distant fifth in her second start before easily winning an allowance.

Two weeks later, Fighting Fever turned in the worst performance of her career, but a month ago she was right back on her game, scoring a six-length win over second-level statebred allowance horses.

Which filly shows up Saturday in Arlington's featured eighth race, a $45,000 overnight handicap for Illinois-bred 3-year-old fillies?

Who knows? But this is certain: If the good Fighting Fever is awake, she will be mightily difficult to beat in this 6 1/2-furlong sprint.

Tom Dorris trains Fighting Fever for the former Illinois gov. Jim Edgar, while Eddie Razo, who has cemented his position this week as second-leading rider, has ridden Fighting Fever all six times she has started. Fighting Fever has pace and post 4, and with no other speed horses to her outside, an ideal pressing or front-running trip looms.

Coach Jimi Lee sharp in work

Coach Jimi Lee, fifth in the Grade 3 Carry Back on July 12 at Calder, worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.60 here on Wednesday and is slated to run in an overnight sprint stakes on Arlington Million Day.

Coach Jimi Lee was no match for the sharp Valid Video in the Carry Back, but was beaten less than six lengths despite breaking poorly.

"He's doing fine," said trainer Jimmy DiVito. "He didn't break as sharp down there as he usually does, and that didn't help much since he's basically a speed horse."

Cradle next for Victory Light

Trainer Elliott Walden said that Victory Light, an impressive winner of this meet's first distance race for 2-year-olds, is headed to the Cradle Stakes at River Downs. Victory Light, a Victory Gallop colt, ran on late to finish third in the fastest 2-year-old maiden sprint of the meet before winning well at a mile in his next start.

"I like him," Walden said. "He had two undescended testicles, so he couldn't be sold for the right price. I trained the father and I trained his mother, so he's a real house horse. I think he could be a nice one."