10/19/2005 11:00PM

Stylish Sultana eyes stakes double


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Stylish Sultana will try to duplicate the stakes double achieved last year by top Massachusetts-bred Ask Queenie when she runs in Saturday's $40,000 John Kirby Stakes at Suffolk Downs.

The Kirby, run at a mile and 70 yards last year, will be run at a mile Saturday.

Last year, Ask Queenie scored a 14 3/4-length victory in the Louise Kimball Distaff Stakes before scoring her second stakes win of the year in the Kirby. Stylish Sultana enters Saturday's race off a neck victory in the Kimball on Oct. 8.

Stylish Sultana faces a tougher task than her predecessor, however. Not only does she face five or six tough males, her main filly rivals from the Kimball - Branded in Gold, who finished second, and Papa Dancer, fifth - are back as well.

Stylish Sultana lived up to her name in the Kimball, making an eye-catching slash between horses to run past tiring pacesetter Papa Dancer and catch Branded in Gold at the wire.

One thing Stylish Sultana hasn't shown yet is the ability to string wins together. She looked like a division leader by beating the boys in the African Prince Stakes in June, but then finished fifth in an allowance and second by 8 1/2 lengths in the Mystery Jet Stakes on July 30, which was won by Papa Dancer.

Branded in Gold was one of the leading 2-year-old Massachusetts-bred fillies last year, when she won 2 of 6 races, including the $40,000 Amelia Peabody Stakes. In the Kimball, she had a clear lead in the stretch but couldn't hold off Stylish Sultana over the slop.

Papa Dancer needs to answer for her disappointment in the Kimball, in which she set easy fractions but was gasping in the stretch and finished fifth, beaten 9 1/2 lengths.

The two leading males in the Kirby are Reprized Strike and Feathertop. Both have early speed and they have the two highest last-out Beyer Speed Figures in the field. Reprized Strike earned a 63 when seventh in a second-level allowance and Feathertop earned a 60 when winning a $5,000 claimer. They were both upstaged by Stylish Sultana in the African Prince, though, with Reprized Strike finishing third and Feathertop fourth.

Rounding out the field are Monet's Choice, Mardo Kayo, Overtime Xena, Just a Strike Away, and Loobie Loobie.

No developments on slots legislation

Slot-machine legislation continued on its way to the State House this week with a hearing before a joint subcommittee.

Suffolk Downs horsemen took a day off from racing last month to testify before a similar committee. A week later a bill authorizing slot machines at the racetracks passed with a veto-proof majority in the State Senate.

Tuesday's meeting provided no clues on when that bill could come before the House, a larger body than the Senate that has traditionally been opposed to expanded gambling. Gov. Mitt Romney has already promised to veto any slots or casino bills.

Final NHC qualifier in Boston area

Suffolk hosts the last Boston-area National Thoroughbred Racing Association/Daily Racing Form National Handicapping Championship qualifier Saturday. Only the top qualifier wins a berth in the finals at Las Vegas on Jan. 27-28, but the whole pool of $40 entry fees will be paid out to the top 10 finishers.

Players make 15 $20 win-and-place wagers on pre-selected races from Suffolk, Belmont, Keeneland, Calder, and Santa Anita.