Rutherienne will try to continue her winning ways in the Garden City.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Rutherienne will try to continue her winning ways in the Garden City.
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Rutherienne Faces Tough Test in Garden City

Rutherienne is the favorite in the Garden City Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 8 at Belmont Park.

Rutherienne has won five turf stakes in a row. But a victory in the $250,000 Garden City Stakes (gr. I) is far from a sure thing, as the 3-year-old filly must overcome a whole new set of challenges in the 1 1/8-mile event at Belmont Park Sept. 8.

A daughter of Pulpit-Ruthian, by Rahy, Rutherienne must carry a race-high 122 pounds and leave from the outside post in the field of 10. In addition, the Virginia Kraft Payson homebred will likely be getting her stiffest test yet, as she will face three quality Europeans who will be locked and loaded for big efforts.

Despite the challenges, Rutherienne is certainly the filly to beat, having won seven of eight career races, most of them while coming from well off the pace. She has won twice at Belmont and twice at a mile-and-an-eighth. Most recently, Rutherienne took the Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) by two lengths Aug. 18. In all, she has run six times in 2007, five of them victories.

“I haven’t worked her since Del Mar,” said trainer Christophe Clement. “She looked fit and with the trip back to New York, I didn’t think she needed to work.  We’ve just kept her cantering.  She’s trained well and she looks well.  She’s very healthy and there’s no reason not to run her.

“She keeps winning, which is great. I’ve been very aggressive with her.  I’ve been running her all the time, but she’s taken it well.”

Of all the fillies she must face, Clement is most concerned about Missvinski, a Kentucky-bred who has made her racing career in France. Most recently, the Starvinsky-Miss U Fran filly just missed by a half-length in the Prix d’Astarte (Fr-I), losing to Darjina, the French 1,000 Guineas champion. Overall, Missvinski has won four of 10 career starts for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget.

“My brother (Nicholas) told me Missvinski’s last race in France was very, very good,” said Clement.

Two other Europeans, Alexander Tango and Costume, could also present problems. Alexander Tango is a Group 3 winner in Ireland who has placed in four of her last six starts and will get Shaun Bridgmohan for a rider. Costume, from Great Britain, just broke her maiden in June, but has since run a pair of quality races, including a half-length loss in a Group 3 test.

Street Sounds, a Canadian-bred, should also be in the picture. A daughter of Street Cry, she has placed in nine of 10 career races, six of them in stakes competition. Trained by Michael Matz, Hidden Creek Farm’s Street Sounds has won five times and earned more than $500,000.

Of the local contenders, Sharp Susan and Bit of Whimsy are not to be discounted. WinStar’s Sharp Susan lost by only a length to Rutherienne in the July 27 Lake George Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga, while Bit of Whimsy, by Distorted Humor , dead-heated Rutherienne in the Sands Point Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont in June.

Valbenny, New Edition and Chestoria round out the field.

$250,000 Garden City Stakes(gr. I, Race 7, 4:08 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Missvinski (KY), 116, Christophe P. Lemaire
2. Sharp Susan (KY), 120, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Street Sounds (ON), 118, John R. Velazquez
4. Costume (GB), 116, Rafael Bejarano
5. Bit of Whimsy (KY), 118 Javier Castellano
6. Valbenny (IRE), 120, Alex O. Solis
7. Alexander Tango (IRE), 118, Shaun Bridgmohan
8. New Edition (KY), 116, Cornelio H. Velasquez
9. Chestoria (NY), 116, Eibar Coa
10. Rutherienne (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez