10/04/2001 11:00PM

Spinster: Sink or swim time


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The $500,000 Overbrook Spinster Stakes, the definitive Midwest test for North America's fillies and mares, has so many possble outcomes that even the trainers involved will feel some degree of relief after it has been run.

"What're you going to do?" asked David Vance, who will saddle 3-year-old Unbridled Elaine in a rugged field of 10. "This is the time of year you do your deal."

Do your deal, indeed. Most of the Spinster field, Unbridled Elaine included, faces these diametrically opposed options Sunday: Run big in the Grade 1 Spinster, or stay in your stall on Oct. 27, when the Breeders' Cup Distaff is run at the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont.

"This race and the [Beldame], those are the races that'll show us all who's Breeders' Cup potential and who isn't," said Vance.

As much as any of the others, Unbridled Elaine would not be a surprise if she winds up on either side of that wide spectrum. After easily winning the Monmouth Oaks two starts back, she finished second to the colt Macho Uno in her last race, the Pennsylvania Derby. The Spinster marks her first attempt against older rivals.

At least four others can be considered huge challengers in the Grade 1 Spinster, which is run at 1 1/8 miles, the same distance as the Distaff. They are Printemps, a Chilean filly who has won both starts in the U.S. for Ron McAnally; Secret Status, the 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner who unfailingly draws strong play; Pompeii, who won the Grade 1 Personal Ensign last out and since has been turned over to trainer Elliott Walden; and Lazy Slusan, the California mare who has won two Grade 1's this year.

The rest of the field is Precious Feather, Rose of Zollern, Starrer, Vivid Sunset, and Miss Linda.

The Spinster, which is being sponsored for the first time by Overbrook Farm, is the eighth of nine races on a Sunday card that also includes the $500,000, Grade 2 Shadwell Keeneland Breeders' Cup Mile, carded as the sixth race. The two Keeneland stakes will be incorporated into a new wager known as the Four Stakes Pick Four, which also includes two races from Santa Anita, the Goodwood and the Oak Tree Mile.

The Keeneland and Santa Anita races will be the focus of a two-hour delayed telecast on ESPN2. The show begins at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

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