10/31/2001 12:00AM

Some respect for Two Item Limit

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MIAMI - Two Item Limit was the only representative from Calder Racecourse at Saturday's World Thoroughbred Championships, and the 3-year-old filly did her local supporters proud, finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Distaff for owner Joseph Graffeo and trainer Steve DiMauro.

Two Item Limit received little respect in the Distaff, either from the media or at the mutuel windows, going off at 32-1 despite having finished second in the Grade 1 Gazelle and third in the Grade 1 Alabama in her two previous starts. Plucked by Graffeo out of the 2000 Ocala Breeders' sale for a bargain $50,000, she proved on Saturday that she belonged with the best of her division. She made a seven-wide run into the stretch and finishing willingly in the middle of the track to get within 1 1/2 lengths of the Distaff winner, Unbridled Elaine.

"I was a little surprised how far back she was during the early running," said DiMauro, who saddled his first Breeders' Cup runner. DiMauro noted that jockey Alex Solis "got her within striking distance at the five-eighths pole.

"Into the turn, she was just outside Unbridled Elaine but then went seven wide and may have moved a little too soon, although I can't take anything away from Alex because she was running at the time. Perhaps if he had ridden her before, he'd have known what kind of run she had and might have waited a little longer. But that's really splitting hairs. All in all, I'm ecstatic over her performance."

The Distaff capped an outstanding season for Two Item Limit, an Illinois-bred daughter of Twining. She won the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan and Grade 3 Comely and earned nearly $650,000 to swell her career bankroll past $900,000.

"Being in the Breeders' Cup, for a stable like ours, was terribly exciting and thrilling," said Graffeo, who is quietly putting together one of the stronger outfits at Calder. "We spend a lot of money overall but don't pay the kind of prices that many of the others in the Breeders' Cup did for each individual horse. In fact, the first horse I ran back home after the Distaff was a maiden $12,500 claimer on Monday.

"As for Two Item Limit, she's just one game filly who ran and was consistent all year long from start to finish."

Graffeo was proud that his filly represented Calder so well.

"Considering all the great trainers and the number of outstanding 2-year-olds who come out of this area each season, the fact we were the only one representing Calder on Saturday was quite an honor," said Graffeo. "And it also proves you can base in Florida year-round and don't have to spend $1 million to participate in all these great events."

Two Item Limit will be sent to the farm in Ocala for the next several months but is scheduled to race again through her 4-year-old season. There is one definite goal in mind.

"She'll launch her 2002 0campaign either at the end of Gulfstream or at Aqueduct in the spring," said DiMauro. "She's undefeated at both tracks. Of course, the ultimate goal is to get back to the Distaff. And win it next season."