08/16/2006 11:00PM

State bragging rights on the line

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East Boston, Mass. - The rivalry between New England's horse of the year, Ask Queenie, and rising star Flirt for Fame enters round four Saturday as those two female Massachusetts-breds take it to the turf in the $40,000 Thomas Moran Stakes at Suffolk Downs.

Between the two of them, Ask Queenie and Flirt for Fame have won all but one statebred stakes race at Suffolk Downs this year.

Ask Queenie has been the dominant force on the Massachusetts-bred scene for the past 16 months. She has nine stakes victories, including, the Moran last year. Dirt, turf, or male competition has made little difference to her when she races in Boston. That is, until Flirt for Fame came around this year.

The 3-year-old Flirt for Fame took on Ask Queenie on June 3 in the Isadorable and gained valuable seasoning by taking on a powerful older rival, finishing fourth. She romped in the Mystery Jet Stakes against fellow 3-year-olds, and she was in the right place when the disqualification of stablemate Sprinkle of Gold in the elevated her to victory in the African Prince Stakes.

With those two wins under her belt, Flirt for Fame upset Ask Queenie in the First Episode on July 29. The two went toe-to-toe on the lead right from the start, and neither gave up for the whole one mile and 70-yard contest.

Ask Queenie came right back with another gut-wrenching performance a week later to take the Last Dance Stakes.

With such a bruising schedule, these two may be vulnerable Saturday. Flirt for Fame will be making her turf debut, while Ask Queenie is making her fourth start in five weeks. She lost her last turf attempt, which came against open company in the Miss Liberty Stakes at the Meadowlands.

The only other horse to win a statebred stakes this year, Reprized Strike, will be making just his third start of the season and figures to be tighter after coming up short in a fight with Ask Queenie in the Last Dance.

Sprinkle of Gold is back looking to prove he can avoid the starting problems that led to his disqualification in the African Prince and scotched his chances most recently in the Last Dance.

Petesamassbred, who has been carrying the banner for the Massachusetts breeding program at Gulfstream and Calder, is back home for another swing after finishing third in the Last Dance in his Boston return.

* Suffolk Downs plans on holding a "Beatles Day" with a tribute band Sept. 17 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Beatles concert here. It may be hard, though, to top the 25,000 fans in attendance Aug. 18, 1966, for what turned out to be the Fab Four's final Boston concert.