10/31/2002 1:00AM

Starine may still have miles left as a racehorse


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Starine, winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last Saturday, could become the first Breeders' Cup winner sold at auction the year of her victory. Listed at Hip No. 407 in the Keeneland November sale, which begins Tuesday, and consigned through the Mill Ridge Farm of John and Alice Chandler, Starine is cataloged as a broodmare prospect, but she also still has significant potential as a racehorse.

In fact, her owner and trainer, Bobby Frankel, said that "if I don't get my price and don't sell her, then I'll definitely supplement her to the Matriarch. If she wins that race, she gets the Eclipse Award" for champion turf mare. Considering Starine's winning effort in Chicago, Frankel is doubtlessly right, but the fascinating aspect of the situation is that the opportunity to race her is also open to anyone who wants to buy Starine. Frankel noted that "if the buyer wanted to run her, sure I'd put her in" for the Matriarch, which will be run Dec. 1 at Hollywood Park.

In her first two races of the year, Starine ran well, finishing second to Golden Apples in the Santa Ana and second again to Astra in the Gamely. "They're supposed to be the two best mares in America, and she's right there with them," Frankel said. "She made the lead a little too soon against Astra and lost by only a head."

As good as those two performances were, Frankel wasn't entirely satisfied with Starine. "She wasn't traveling good for me at Hollywood," he said. "We tried a nuclear scan but couldn't find anything. So I gave her some time off [after the Gamely in May] and then took her to New York" for the Flower Bowl in September.

In her first race on soft turf since her victory in the Matriarch last year, Starine ran well, beaten 1 3/4 lengths into fourth by European multiple Group 1 winner Kazzia.

But that race was apparently just what Frankel needed to get Starine ready to fire her best shot in the Breeders' Cup, and Starine galloped to victory by 1 1/2 lengths.

Although she loomed over her competition in the Filly and Mare Turf, Starine "is a medium-sized filly, a pretty filly," Frankel said, "and she's a great mover. She's got such a good, light action that she just scoots along the ground."

Frankel believes that her smooth and efficient action makes her more versatile and an effective competitor. "I don't think she runs any better over soft than firm turf," he said. "It's just that a lot of the others don't run as well on soft ground, and it gives you an advantage if you can."

Starine has won over ground rated good to heavy, and her first stakes victory came on heavy ground in the listed Prix Saraca at the end of her juvenile campaign. She had three more listed placings at 3 but did not win another stakes until the Diana Handicap last year at Saratoga.

Bred in France by Catherine Dubois, Starine has won 10 races from 33 starts and has earned more than $1.6 million. She was claimed out of her seventh start at 2 for approximately $32,000, and her stakes performances in France came after transfer to trainer Jean-Marie Capitte. Purchased privately, Starine shipped over to Frankel early in her 4-year-old season, and the lion's share of her earnings and fame have come under his handling.

Ties to powerful Paulson bloodstock

Starine's sire, Mendocino, provides yet another link between the Breeders' Cup and the bloodstock of the late Allen Paulson and his wife, Madeleine Paulson. In addition to breeding Distaff winner Azeri and having stood Strawberry Road, the broodmare sire of this year's Juvenile winner, Vindication, the Paulsons also bred Mendocino and raced him in France.

Mendocino is from the first crop of Breeders' Cup Turf winner Theatrical. Paulson had acquired an interest in Theatrical and eventually bought out his partners before the 1987 Breeders' Cup Turf, which the horse won. Winner of the Eclipse as best turf horse, Theatrical went to stud at Brookside Farm, and Paulson supported him with many high-quality mares.

In large part because of Paulson's faith in Theatrical, the horse has become a internationally successful stallion, siring major winners from France, Ireland, Japan, and Australia. One of his best daughters, Astra, is among the contenders for this year's Eclipse Award as leading turf mare.

Mendocino won the Prix Herod in France at 2 for Paulson and later placed in the Prix du Lys, but the colt trained off thereafter. A useful colt on his day, Mendocino was given a chance at stud in France, and he has done well from limited opportunities. Starine is his best racer by a considerable margin.

Starine is out of the Kaldoun mare Grisonnante, and Frankel noted that "I also have Starine's mother in the November sale with some partners, and she also sells on Tuesday."

Grisonnante, a 14-year-old gray, is cataloged as Hip No. 572 and is in the Mill Ridge consignment.

Alice Chandler said, "Grisonnante has been on the farm for a month. She is a good-looking mare, now white. She is a medium-sized, compact mare with quality. I think Starine has a little more scope."

Both Starine and Grisonnante were scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Thursday.

Starine is her dam's fourth foal, and Grisonnante produced a yearling full brother last year. Grisonnante is in foal to Pivotal on a May 15 cover. Pivotal stands at Cheveley Park Stud in England and sired Starine's rival, Golden Apples, as well as top English sprinter Kyllachy.