04/16/2002 11:00PM

Stidham runs Affirm Miss vs. history

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - In the 67 years that Keeneland has been conducting horse races, on only a handful of occasions has a trainer won the same stakes race as many as three years in a row.

Harry Trotsek was the only trainer to pull off such a feat twice, winning the Ben Ali Handicap four consecutive times and the Phoenix Handicap three times in a row, both streaks coming in the 1950's. Only two other trainers have registered three straight wins in a Keeneland stakes race: Pat Devereux Sr. in the Fayette (1969-71) and Victor "Whitey" Doleski in the Ben Ali (1972-74).

On Friday, Mike Stidham will attempt to join that select group when he saddles Affirm Miss for the $100,000 Appalachian Stakes.

Stidham won the 2000 Appalachian with Impending Bear and the 2001 Appalachian with Bold Answer. In neither case was his horse the favorite, which might be a good omen for him this year. The favorite in Friday's Appalachian will probably be Styleistick, a Bill Mott-trained filly who won the Green River Stakes here last fall and has the ever-popular Pat Day named to ride.

Not that Affirm Miss doesn't have a few things going for her in the Appalachian, a one-mile turf race that drew a field of nine. Besides her trainer's admirable streak, and besides having Jerry Bailey named to ride, she enters the race off two solid victories, both over the Fair Grounds turf course.

Several other 3-year-old fillies deserve prominent mention in this 14th edition of the Appalachian.

Academic Angel won her lone turf attempt at Fair Grounds before she was overmatched in the Silverbulletday on dirt.

Atlantic Fury, good enough to win the Cup and Saucer Stakes at Woodbine in her career debut, recently got a much-needed race in New Orleans.

And Lush Soldier was second to Styleistick in the Green River and a recent allowance at Gulfstream.

August Storm, Marinade, Hi Tech Honeycomb, and Once Around also are entered.

Two turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies formerly were run at Keeneland in the spring - the Appalachian on the meet's opening weekend and the Palisades near meet's end. This year, the Appalachian was moved to this new date and the Palisades was scrapped to make room for the new Madison Stakes, which was run April 10.

Besides the Appalachian, the Friday card also includes four allowance races. First post for the 11th of 16 racing days is 1:15 p.m.

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