10/23/2001 11:00PM

She's got all the goods - and she won't be the favorite


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Infrequently will a handicapper analyze a race and find that one horse possesses the highest Beyer Speed Figures, the strongest recent form, and the best record at the track. Far more often, the goods are shared among several horses.

When a horse does own all three of those assets, he's usually such a stickout that he starts as an overwhelming favorite. But sometimes one slips through the cracks, and, hopefully, the next slip comes Saturday in the World Thoroughbred Championships Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Exogenous, who warrants being the favorite, will likely start as an overlaid second choice behind Flute. Why? Because of a lack of hype.

Exogenous is one of the most underappreciated dual Grade 1 winners in racing. That shouldn't be. Consider how she matches up with Flute and the other members of the Distaff.

Let's start with speed figures. Exogenous is the only filly who has earned a Beyer of 109 or more, twice. Miss Linda matched that figure once, in the Spinster. Flute's highest figure is a 107.

Exogenous also has her opponents beaten on form. She is undefeated in two starts since being equipped with blinkers, easily defeating Flute and Fleet Renee - the leaders of the 3-year-old filly division this summer. She also has defeated older stakes mares, something Flute has not done.

Lastly, Exogenous has an affinity for Belmont Park. Four of her five wins have come at the track known as "Big Sandy," while Flute has raced there once - finishing second to Exogenous in the Beldame.

The scary thing is that Exogenous keeps getting better. She is a filly who had only one victory through May, when Flute was winning the Kentucky Oaks. Now, Exogenous is in position to overthrow Flute for a divisional championship if she can beat her again.

Will it be easy? No. Let there be no doubt, Flute is legitimate. But she isn't necessarily better than Exogenous.

When Exogenous beat her in the Beldame, Flute was fortunate to be second. The winner lugged in under right-handed pressure, impeding Spain and likely costing that one second place, which she lost by a head to Flute.

The inability of Exogenous to keep a straight course also kept her from running up a larger margin of victory than the 1 1/4 lengths that was measured at the wire.

With jockey Javier Castellano now more familiar with Exogenous, he should be prepared for any of her antics in the stretch this time. Under left-handing urging, she will keep a straighter path.

As for the widespread belief that Flute ran on a deep rail at Belmont, that is a shaky excuse. Nine times out of 10, the shortest route is the best route. Her rider, Jerry Bailey, never hesitated when sending her to the fence, knowing pacesetter Beautiful Pleasure's history of drifting out on the track. And Bailey's judgment is rarely wrong. Exogenous deserves to be 3-1 in the Distaff. Anything higher is an overlay.

At 3-1 or higher, she merits support in the win pool and in the exotics. I plan to play her in first and second in the exotics with the one-two finishers from a very fast Spinster - Miss Linda and Starrer - plus with Flute, who although likely overbet, has a strong chance.

Other races on the card seem far more competitive, and therefore more likely to produce large prices. I plan to take a couple shots on a pair of midwestern overachievers - Bet on Sunshine in the Sprint and Guided Tour in the Classic. And With Anticipation figures to be a generous price in the Turf.

But I see few faults in favorites You (Juvenile Fillies), Officer (Juvenile), and Lailani (Filly and Mare Turf). They represent the best opportunities for singles in pick 3's and in the Pick 6.