06/30/2001 11:00PM

Touch Love victorious in Astoria Stakes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Maryland-based horses completed a sweep of New York's juvenile stakes this weekend as Touch Love gutted out a three-quarters of a length victory over 6-5 favorite Smok'n Frolic in Sunday's $108,500 Astoria Stakes for fillies at Belmont Park.

On Saturday, Maryland-based Buster's Daydream won the Grade 3 Tremont for juvenile colts.

Breaking from the outside post in the field of seven, Touch Tone was part of a four-ply speed duel outside of Self Rising, Ghost Wrestling and My Heart's Deelite as the quarter ran an opening quarter in 22.91 seconds. Touch Tone forged to the lead leaving the three-eighths pole and put away the other three turning for home.

Smok'n Frolic, who won the Fashion Stakes last month, made a run at Touch Love in upper stretch but could not past. She finished 6 1/4 lengths ahead of VVS Flawless.

``The last sixteenth I wasn't sure she was going to hang on,'' winning rider Jorge Chavez said. ``When she saw the outside horse she gave me a second run. She was pinching her ears back and was fighting hard.''

Touch Love, who won a maiden race at Delaware Park on May 7, completed 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.65 and returned $18.20 to win. According to trainer Anthony Dutrow, Touch Love was entered in the Fashion Stakes, but contracted a temperature prior to the race and was forced to scratch.

Smok'n Frolic, ran a game race considering her erratic pre-race behavior. According to jockey Jerry Bailey, Smok'n Frolic reared up, hit him in the head and ran off as soon as she got behind the gate. After loading, she broke through the gate and was reluctant to re-load.

``Considering everything she did wrong at the gate, I thought she ran a heck of race,'' trainer Todd Pletcher said. ``It's not too often you make all those mistakes and still run well.''