06/25/2001 11:00PM

When will 'Apple' blossom?


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Ten months and six starts after a wonderful debut here at Arlington Park, the filly Applesolutely continues her slow evolution into a turf stakes horse.

Inconsistency and immaturity have marred her development, but Applesolutely remains an unusually talented filly who still can become something special. An authoritative win in Thursday's seventh race would bring her closer to stakes competition.

Applesolutely faces a good field of nine other fillies and mares in a third-level allowance race to be contested at about one mile on turf. Eusabio Razo rides Applesolutely for owner Dick Duchossois and trainer Chris Block, and the filly should be among the favorites in a well-matched group.

After running past a good maiden field here last August, Applesolutely beat other winners in her first try, taking a Hawthorne allowance race. Block thought enough of the filly to send her to Churchill Downs for her next start, another allowance race. There she made a strong stretch run and finished second, three-quarters of a length behind Song for Annie, an exceptional turf filly who would go on to post multiple stakes wins.

Applesolutely's winter turned into a bust. In an allowance race Jan. 13 at Gulfstream, Applesolutely, who can be a difficult horse to ride, ran off with jockey Pat Day, Block said, dragging him through an insensible pace and fading in the stretch. A month later, Day was back up and this time got the filly off the pace, but she never got into the race, finishing 10th. Block said a post-race examination revealed a serious lung infection. And there went the winter.

On May 18 at Hawthorne, she was back, but not at her best. Pulling aggressively from the start, Applesolutely never fully relaxed - as she has at her peak - and beat an overmatched field on raw talent.

"I still don't think we've seen the best of her," Block said last week. "The key is to get her off the pace. When she can make that one run, that's when she's best."

There will not be much pace to run at Thursday - Gerri's Auto Bee is the sole confirmed front-runner - but Block would probably sacrifice a tactical edge if Applesolutely runs a professional race.

If she does not, she can be beaten, perhaps by a loose-on-the-lead Gerri's Auto Bee, or by Dynasharp or Cois Cuain. Dynasharp ran well on this turf course last summer for trainer Steve Hobby, just missing at this class level. Cois Cuain is an Irish import trained by Dick Lundy making her first start in the U.S. Though she runs out of her allowance conditions, Cois Cuain is listed-stakes placed and the Lundy barn is hot.