09/18/2002 11:00PM

Tates Creek better off shorter

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ELMONT, N.Y. - After unsuccessfully chasing the nation's top turf fillies and mares at 1 3/16 miles in Chicago, Tates Creek finds a better spot when she heads an 11-horse field in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000, Noble Damsel Handicap at one mile at Belmont Park.

Following her dramatic nose victory in the Grade 2 Diana Handicap at Saratoga, Tates Creek chased Golden Apples, Astra, and England's Legend in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington. After chasing the early pace, Tates Creek tired in the stretch and finished last, beaten only 4 3/4 lengths.

"I just think it was too far for her," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "It wasn't a terrible race."

The Beverly D. ended a string of eight races in which Tates Creek had finished first or second. In addition to the Diana, Tates Creek won the Jenny Wiley Handicap at Keeneland, an allowance race at Belmont, and was second in the Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Belmont Stakes Day. That day, she lost by a neck to Babae, who was cross-entered in the Noble Damsel and Friday night's Violet Handicap at The Meadowlands.

Frankel believes Tates Creek should have defeated Babae that day. He thinks jockey Kent Desormeaux let Tates Creek fall too far off a moderate pace.

"She broke good, and instead of letting her get a position, she's last and out of position behind a slow pace," Frankel said.

Saturday, Tates Creek will break from post 8 under Jerry Bailey and highweight of 119 pounds.

Babae drew the rail and would be up close to what looks to be a strong pace. Dat You Miz Blue, Cozzy Corner, Quick Blue, and Shooting Party all appear to do their best running up front.

Dat You Miz Blue, who made the first 26 starts of her career on dirt, seems to have found a new home on the turf. In an Aug. 19 allowance race at Saratoga, Dat You Miz Blue opened up a five-length lead, was passed in the stretch, but came back to win by one-half length.

"She seems to fight a little harder on turf when she's surrounded by horses," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said.

Trainer Christophe Clement has two chances with Amonita and Coney Kitty. Amonita, a Group 1 winner in France two years ago, came off an 11-month layoff to defeat Watch and Wander Mom - who are both entered in the Noble Damsel - in a Saratoga allowance race.

Usual suspects in Ashley T. Cole

Celtic Sky and I'm All Yours, who have combined to win four of the last five turf stakes run for New York-bred colts and geldings, do battle again in the $75,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap, which drew a field of 10.

Recently, Celtic Sky holds the edge, having defeated I'm All Yours in the Kingston and West Point handicaps. In the West Point, I'm All Yours may have been compromised by racing closer to than pace than he prefers while conceding six pounds to Celtic Sky.

Reluctant Groom, who has finished second in the Kingston and West Point, still must prove he can get nine furlongs. He does figure to get loose on the lead, as he did in the West Point.