06/05/2007 12:00AM

Acorn history rich with filly milers


NEW YORK - While the 3-year-old colts get the spotlight in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, the 3-year-old fillies square off in the Acorn Stakes the same day. First run in 1931, the one-mile Acorn has featured some of racing's most distinguished fillies.

Its roster of winners includes Baba Kenny (1931), an ancestor of Alysheba; Top Flight (1932); Nellie L (1943), the second dam of Bold Forbes; Twilight Tear (1944); Gallorette (1945); Siama (1950), the dam of Bald Eagle; Nothirdchance (1951), the dam of champion 2-year-old and influential sire Hail to Reason; High Voltage (1955), dam of Impressive, Great Power, and Bold Commander (sire of 1970 Kentucky Derby winner Dust Commander); Princess Turia (1956), dam of Forward Pass; and Marking Time (1966), the dam of champion Relaxing and second dam of champion Easy Goer.

Other prominent fillies who won the Acorn include Furl Sail (1967), Dark Mirage (1968), Shuvee (1969), Susan's Girl (1972), Chris Evert (1974), and racing's greatest filly, Ruffian (1975).

Rags to Riches will bypass the Acorn and run in the Belmont. By a Belmont winner, A.P. Indy, and out of Better Than Honour (by Deputy Minister), who produced last year's Belmont winner, Jazil, Rags to Riches will love the 1 1/2-mile distance and also would benefit from the five weeks between her Kentucky Oaks victory and the Belmont, while Curlin and Hard Spun will be running for the third time in those five weeks.

Nevertheless, the Acorn is always a good race, and this year it is expected to feature some well-regarded 3-year-old fillies, including Christmas Kid, Cotton Blossom, Dream Rush, Mistical Plan, Princess Janie, and Boca Grande.

Boca Grande looks resurgent

Boca Grande, who won the Demoiselle Stakes last year at 2, has seemingly returned to her best form after a dull effort at Gulfstream. She won the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct a prep for the Acorn and - like Rags to Riches - is bred to improve over classic distances, as both are by A. P. Indy. While Rags to Riches is clearly the divisional front-runner, Boca Grande could begin to mount a challenge, beginning with the Acorn.

Boca Grande is also the heir apparent to a female family that has been worth its weight in gold. Boca Grande is closely related to Pine Island and the 2005 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner, Pleasant Home. Boca Grande is out of a stakes winner, Country Hideaway, who is a full sister to Pine Island's dam, Matlacha Pass, and to Pleasant Home. Country Hideaway, Matlacha Pass, and Pleasant Home are by Seeking the Gold out of the unraced Pleasant Colony mare Our Country Place (out of Maplejinsky, and thus a half-sister to Sky Beauty), who was a private purchase right before she was scheduled to be sold in the 1993 Saratoga yearling sale.

Christmas Kid won the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland and has a classy pedigree as well. By a Belmont Stakes winner, Lemon Drop Kid, she has as her third dam a stakes winner, Sugar Plum Time, who is a full sister to Yule Log, the dam of champion Christmas Past, and half-sister to Sweet Tooth, the dam of Alydar. While she can win at one mile, her forte will be distances longer than one mile, and she would be even more effective on grass.

Cotton Blossom, trained by Todd Pletcher, won last year's Schuylerville Stakes and was second in the Spinaway and third in the BC Juvenile Fillies. She is by the underrated Broken Vow, a young son of Unbridled. Her third dam, Yellow Train, is a full sister to the lightning-quick Full Pocket, and Cotton Blossom should be at her best at this one-mile distance.

Dream Rush in top form

Dream Rush is the "now" filly in the Acorn, having won the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream and the Nassau County Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont. By a Met Mile winner, Wild Rush, who was exported to Japan before his runners started winning major stakes in this country, she is out of an Unbridled mare, and her fourth dam is Reine Mathilde, a multiple Grade 1 and Grade 2 winner. Her victories included the E.oP. Taylor, Santa Barbara, Gamely, and Wilshire handicaps.

Dream Rush's fifth dam is the very classy Meadow Stud mare Gay Matelda, an Alabama Stakes winner who had the misfortune of being in the same outstanding foal crop as Dark Mirage, winner of New York's triple crown for fillies, and several other good fillies. They include a 2-year-old filly champion, Queen of the Stage; Secretariat's stakes-winning full sister Syrian Sea; Best in Show (the third dam of Jazil and Rags to Riches); Miss Swapsco (the dam of Ballade and second dam of Devil's Bag, Saint Ballado, and Glorious Song); and Sweet Tooth.