01/13/2007 12:00AM

Showcase for Get Ready Bertie

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Get Ready Bertie is barely getting warmed up at the end of a one-mile race with a short stretch run, but she still rumbled home a two-length winner of the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Get Ready Bertie already was a strapping lass at age 2, and she certainly has not shrunk over the last couple months. She's tall, has a long stride, and lacks early speed - the characteristics of a true route horse. And since Get Ready Bertie was able to win Saturday at a distance shorter than her best, her best may be yet to come as winter turns to spring and the distances available to 3-year-old fillies grow longer.

As Cohiba Miss, trained by Bernie Flint, sprang to the lead from the rail in Saturday's race, Get Ready Bertie, trained by Bernie Flint's son Steve for owners Richard, Bertram, and Elaine Klein, dropped back to second-last for the run around the first turn. Jockey Robby Albarado saved ground on Get Ready Bertie, as Cohiba Miss went a quarter-mile in 23.78 seconds and a half in a pressured 47.03. The speed started backing up at the top of the stretch, as Albarado threaded his way to the outside. Once clear for the short run to the finish, Get Ready Bertie finished well, her ears still pricked at the finish, though the race's final quarter-mile went in a slow-ish 27.19 seconds for a final time of 1:39.52. The longshot Dawn After Dawn won a head bob with late-running Stage Stop for second.

Get Ready Bertie ($5.80), could wind up at Gulfstream Park for a stakes try later this winter. Flint said last week he was keen to try Get Ready Bertie at 1 1/8 miles, and he has the good 3-year-old filly Change Up readying for the Silverbulletday Stakes here.

Bradley: Purim prevails by a head

Trainer Tom Proctor was unconcerned a few days after Purim had faded to sixth as the favorite in the Dec. 16 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap. Purim hadn't raced since June, and Proctor surmised his horse was a race short. He was right.

Saturday, in the $100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley, Purim went forward instead of backward in the final quarter-mile, coming back to edge Fort Prado by a head after Fort Prado had taken the lead at the sixteenth pole.

After a near miss to the good grass horse Rush Bay in the June 3 Opening Verse at Churchill Downs, Purim ($7.60) was unraced until the Diliberto. He pressed a solid pace before running out of gas that day, but was all heart Saturday, going to the front under jockey Jesus Castanon before giving way to longshot Gigawatt, who set fractions of 23.68 seconds for the opening quarter and 48.54 for a half-mile.

Meanwhile, rail-drawn Fort Prado drafted behind the leaders while saving ground, and Albarado found a spot for Fort Prado at the top of the stretch. Purim, having put away Gigawatt, faced a fresh challenge, and Fort Prado got his nose in front about 100 yards from the finish. But this time, Purim had something extra. He got back on even terms in a few strides, and put his head in front just before the finish.

Cloudy's Knight edged Raw Power for third. Purim was timed in 1:43.22 for 1 1/16 miles over firm turf.

Arbuckle Bandit went down at the six-furlong pole of the race, and appeared to have suffered a fatal heart attack, trainer Mike Stidham said. Jockey Carlos Marquez was injured in the spill and might have broken his collarbone, according to Stidham.

Colonel Power: Venomous upsets

Venomous ($21.20) came again in midstretch to hold off favored Clock Stopper in the $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes.

Jockey Elvis Perrodin kept Venomous on the inside close to a hotly contested pace set by Rodeo's Castle, Storm Surge, and Private Vow. After those three blazed a 44.93-second half-mile, Perrodin made his move.

"I had to wait for my hole to open up, but when Private Vow took off it gave me leeway to split between him and Storm Surge," Perrodin said.

Meteor Impact made a wide move to the lead in the stretch but Venomous emerged along the rail with the lead in deep stretch, then held off the fast-closing Clock Stopper by a neck at the wire, with Meteor Impact another two lengths back in third.

"He made the lead and he wanted to pull up," said Perrodin. "I was worried when he kind of threw his ears up, but I switched back to my left hand and got him going again."

Venomous finished the six furlongs in 1:09.58. It was the second win on the card for Perrodin and trainer Patrick Mouton.

"When we drew the 1 hole I thought we were in serious trouble," said Mouton, "because this horse doesn't like getting dirt in his face. But he stayed clear and made his run."

Leggio: Favorite cruises

Smitty's Sunshine ($4.60) fought off early pace pressure from Indigo Girl and easily won the $100,000 Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial, a 5 1/2-furlong turf stakes for fillies and mares, by 3 3/4 lengths.

Smitty's Sunshine, trained by Morris Nicks, is a Louisiana-bred daughter of the obscure stallion Seeking a Home, but has found a home in grass races, with wins in four of her five turf starts. In her last start of 2006, she won the Pent Up Kiss Stakes at Churchill.

- additional reporting by John Swenson