Bobby Frankel loves the position he is in with Juddmonte Farms' multiple grade 1 winner Sightseek. After 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri had her 11-race win streak snapped last weekend in California, the case could be made that Sightseek is better. She has won her last three grade 1 starts by open lengths and the key now for Sightseek is to remain at the top of her game until the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) later this month at Santa Anita.
But first, she will have to get by a host of other top fillies and mares in Saturday's $750,000 Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
If she is the same filly she was during the spring and summer, Sightseek's rivals had better be at their best should they want to be lead down the brick path to the winner's circle. Although she has not run in over two months, Sightseek's works have been brilliant. She went five furlongs in:58 2/5 Sept. 6th and six furlongs in an extremely sharp 1:10 3/5 on Sept. 21st.
"You don't see fillies look like her," Frankel said of Sightseek, one of his favorite horses to train. "She's gorgeous. She looks like a gladiator. She's so easy to train and kind to be around. You like those kinds of horses. They don't give you any headaches. You come here in the morning and they're the same every day."
As far as determining the champion filly or mare of 2003, the Breeders' Cup Distaff will probably be the deciding factor, and that is exactly how Frankel wants it.
"It just throws the door wide open," Frankel said of Azeri's loss. "If she would have run in the Classic and got beat, the voters might not have taken too much away from her. Now if I win the Distaff, there's no doubt I get it. Before I was worried about it."
But winning the Beldame won't exactly be a walk in the park for Frankel and Sightseek, who will face some talented 3-year-old fillies.
One of the 3-year-olds is Marylou Whitney's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Birdtown, who is considered one of the leading candidates for champion 3-year-old filly off her Oaks and Acorn (gr. I) win. Winless in two starts since her Acorn triumph, Bird Town has been freshened up after finishing fifth in the Alabama.
Bird Town has been training over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track. The Cape Town filly has posted four Spa workouts since the Alabama, including a September 27th drill in which she went seven furlongs in 1:28 4/5.
"Fillies seem to run well fresh and it looks like she's put weight on," said trainer Nick Zito, who is looking for a more genuine Bird Town performance Saturday. "Wait until you see her in the paddock. She looks real nice. That's why we're taking this big step."
With Edgar Prado out of town Saturday, jockey Aaron Gryder has picked up the mount on Bird Town.
The field for Saturday's $750,000 Beldame (gr. I) includes:
1--Buy The Sport (Corey Nakatani, 120)
2 -- Sightseek (Jerry Bailey, 123)
3--Summer Colony (Pablo Fragoso, 123)
4--Passing Shot (Jose Santos, 123)
5--Bird Town (Aaron Gryder, 120)
6--Smok'n Frolic (Ramon Dominguez, 123)
7--Misty Sixes (Mike Luzzi, 123)
8--Island Fashion (John Velazquez, 120)