Summer Colony (inside) heads the field for Saturday's Beldame Stakes.

Summer Colony (inside) heads the field for Saturday's Beldame Stakes.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Beldame Heads Big Belmont Breeders' Cup Prep Weekend

Azeri did her part in winning Wednesday's Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, and now it's up to Edward P. Evans' Summer Colony to match her or do her one better when she takes on six talented fillies and mares in Saturday's $750,000 Beldame Stakes.

Summer Colony, the only filly to have defeated Azeri, will run as an entry with the Evans-owned Unrestrained, who is coming off stakes victories at Meadowlands and Delaware Park.

Victimized by a wire-to-wire effort by Atellier in the Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 29, Summer Colony and John Velazquez are going to have to rely on Delaware Oaks winner and Alabama runner-up Allamerican Bertie to put pressure on Godolphin's speedy Imperial Gesture, front-running winner of the Gazelle Handicap. In that race, Imperial Gesture ran her nine furlongs significantly faster than Lido Palace in the Woodward Stakes the same day. Although Unrestrained certainly sounds like a filly who can be used as a rabbit, she really hasn't shown much speed in any of her races, which have been around two turns. Imperial Gesture will be ridden by Jerry Bailey, who missed the Gazelle due to a suspension.

"I think the Beldame is a good race, but obviously a one-turn, mile and an eighth is a different kind of race," trainer Mark Hennig said. "With the experiences (Summer Colony) had this year, good and bad, we're prepared for anything. Last year, people might have said she was one-dimensional. But she's showed in her race with Azeri (Santa Anita's La Canada on Feb. 9) and the Delaware Handicap (a neck victory on July 21), that she doesn't have to have things her own way."

Coming off two mile and a quarter races, Summer Colony needs to hone her speed for the one-turn Beldame, and she took a step in that direction by blazing five furlongs in :58 3/5 breezing last Sunday.

"Her work was a little quicker than I wanted, but you have to remember that the track was very fast on Saturday and this came a day later," Hennig said. "I think it is fair to say that the track was a second quicker, so it wasn't a big surprise that she would work a second quicker. I got what I wanted, which was a sharp, quick move into her. It makes her more aggressive."

Another key participant in the Beldame is Mandy's Gold, a fast sprinter who was taken back to last in the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian Handicap, then mowed down You in the stretch to win going away. No one knows which Mandy's Gold we'll see on Saturday, as she now has the advantage of being able to be placed anywhere.

The remainder of the Beldame field consists of the Kenny McPeek-trained Minister's Baby, who made a threatening move in the Ruffian, but prefers to wait longer to make her move; and the consistent Transcendental, from the Jim Bond stable, who is coming off three straight second-place finishes in grade I stakes – the Ogden Phipps, Go For Wand, and Personal Ensign.

"I can't say enough good things about Summer Colony," Bond said. "You never wish bad luck on anybody, but if for some reason she doesn't run her race, we're hoping we'll be right there. Transcendental has been running second to some pretty good horses; they all can't keep having good days. Hopefully, Transcendental will continue to be consistent and will catch one of them when they don't run their race."

Minister's Baby will have the servies of Jose Martinez Jr., who replaces Edgar Prado.

Saturday's card will offer a lot more than just the Beldame. Bob Baffert, who has a battalion of 2-year-olds in the barn, will send Del Mar Futurity winner Icecoldbeeratreds for the Champagne Stakes. With Zavata forced to miss the race after suffering an injury in his stall Thursday morning, Icecoldbeeratreds, with David Flores up, looks to be the favorite over Hopeful and Futurity runner-up Pretty Wild.

D. Wayne Lukas will send the recent Belmont allowance Desert Warrior; the Awesome Again colt Toccet is coming off two runaway victories in Maryland and could be any kind; Kenny McPeek will saddle Risky Cat, winner of the Kimberlite Pipe Stakes on the grass at Kentucky Downs after suffering from a lung infection in the Cradle Stakes; Cape Good Hope is coming off a 4 1/2-length allowance victory at a mile at Delaware Park; Erinsouthernman has won his only start, a Saratoga maiden race going seven furlongs; and the Patrick Biancone-trained Brancusi, second to Erinsouthernman in his his only career start.

But perhaps the one to watch here is Outer Reef, who demonstrated a brilliant turn of foot when breaking his maiden at Belmont going a mile. The son of Pulpit is a grand-looking colt and his trainer John Kimmel is extremely high on him, especially for next year. Jose Santos, who rode the colt in his first two start, will be back on, even though Jerry Bailey was aboard for ther maiden victory. Bailey will ride Brancusi, who gets blinkers added.

The Frizette Stakes looks to be all about Storm Flag Flying, who destroyed her field by 12 3/4 lengths in the Matron Stakes. She'll face Fircroft, a troubled third in the Matron, and a new face in Santa Catarina, the Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Unbridled who missed by a neck in the Del Mar Debutante. Jerry Bailey has been assigned the mount.

Also entered are Fortuitous and One and Twenty, winners of the split Natalma Stakes on the turf at Woodbine; Appleby Gardens from the Todd Pletcher stable whjo won the Shady Well Stakes at Woodbine before finishing up the track in the Spinaway; and Fabulous Brush, another from the McPeek barn, who romped in the Bassinet Stakes at River Downs.

The final stakes, the one-mile Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap on the turf, will showcase the hard-hitting and versatile Forbidden Apple, who will be looking to win the Kelso for the third straight year. Last year, he came off the Kelso to finish second in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Forbidden Apple, ridden by Jose Santos, will face Moon Solitaire, Krieger, Patrol (from the Mott/Bailey team), Baptize, Volponi (also entered in Friday's Meadowlands Cup), Saint Verre, Green Fee, and Lunar Leo.

$750,000 Beldame (gr. I), 1 1/8 mile, Fillies & Mares, 3 & Up
1a Summer Colony, John Velazquez, 123
2 Minister's Baby, Jose Martinez Jr., 123
3 Imperial Gesture, Jerry Bailey, 120
4 Allamerican Bertie, Larry Melancon, 120
5a Unrestrained, Pat Day, 123
6 Mandy's Gold, Jose Santos, 123
7 Transcendental, Shaun Bridgmohan, 123

$500,000 Champagne (gr. I), 1 1/16 mile, 2-year-olds
1 Desert Warrior, John Velazquez, 122
2 Toccet, Jorge Chavez, 122
3 Risky Cat, Jose Martinez Jr., 122
4 Cape Good Hope, Aaron Gryder, 122
5 Erinsouthernman, Richard Migliore, 122
6 Outer Reef, Jose Santos, 122
7 Icecoldbeeratreds, David Flores, 122
8 Brancusi, Jerry Bailey, 122
9 Pretty Wild, Shaun Bridgmohan, 122

Brancusi will race with blinkers.

$500,000 Frizette (gr. I), 1 1 /16 mile, 2-year-old fillies
1 Fortuitous, Jorge Chavez, 122
2 One And Twenty, Shaun Bridgmohan, 122
3 Storm Flag Flying, John Velazquez, 122
4 Appleby Gardens, Richard Migliore, 122
5 Santa Catarina, Jerry Bailey, 122
6 Fircroft, Pat Day, 122
7 Fabulous Brush, Jose Martinez Jr., 122