09/24/2002 11:00PM

Two fillies fond of the fair

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POMONA, Calif. - Warren's Whistle and Covincing were unheralded 2-year-old fillies when they scored impressive wins just days apart during the 2000 Los Angeles County Fair meet at Fairplex Park. Warren's Whistle has since earned more than $500,000 for trainer Mel Stute, while Covincing is still finding her niche.

She may have found it Friday at Fairplex in the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap. Twelve fillies and mares entered the 1 1/16-mile Las Madrinas, a race Covincing has pointed to for weeks.

The field includes Spunky Gal, recent winner of the E.B. Johnston Stakes; De Goddaughter, two-time stakes winner this year in northern California; Skywriting, third last out in a Grade 3 race; and Mimi's Cafe, winner of the Las Madrinas last year. While several have license to win, few are more qualified than Covincing or Warren's Whistle.

Warren's Whistle has come a long way for trainer Mel Stute. Her victory in the 2000 Black Swan for 2-year-old fillies was her first of three stakes wins at Fairplex. She likes the five-eighths mile configuration, and the softer company that typically competes at the Fair. "I think she likes a little bit of all of it," said Stute.

The trouble with Warren's Whistle, winner of the 6 1/2-furlong Pio Pico Stakes the last two years, is that she is best as a late-running sprinter. Stute agrees, but said "With so many turns, she might think she's sprinting." The Las Madrinas is run around three turns.

Martin Pedroza rides Warren's Whistle, the 118-pound co-highweight along with Spunky Gal. A 4-year-old by Wolf Power, Warren's Whistle has won seven races and $585,058 from 39 starts. Her main rival is Covincing, who has campaigned sparingly the past two years. As a 2-year-old, Covincing scored a 10-length maiden win at Fairplex, just a week and a half before Warren's Whistle won her first stakes.

A minor injury kept her sidelined nine months, during which time she was sold to owner David Milch and trainer Darrell Vienna in a five-horse package that included future stakes winners Disturbingthepeace and Above Perfection. Covincing improved steadily over the season, but chipped a knee in the California Cup Matron last fall and was out of action until Sept. 5.

She finished a credible second in her comeback, and Vienna said Covincing has "been training quite well" since her comeback. Milch has had the Las Madrinas in mind since before her comeback. David Flores, the dominant jockey at Fairplex in the early 1990's, will ride Covincing, who has won 3 of 9.

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