09/18/2002 11:00PM

Baffert's 'Beer' has taste for Champagne

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Bob Baffert will seek his second consecutive victory in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes on Oct. 5 when he ships Del Mar Futurity winner Icecoldbeeratreds to Belmont Park for the $500,000 race for 2-year-olds.

Baffert won last year's Champagne with Officer, who was also coming off a victory in the Del Mar Futurity. Like Officer, Icecoldbeeratreds is a California-bred who won his first two starts in restricted company.

After finishing fifth behind stablemate Kafwain in the Best Pal Stakes, Icecoldbeeratreds turned the tables on that rival, defeating him by two lengths in the Del Mar Futurity. Baffert said one of the reasons he chose the Champagne for Icecoldbeeratreds is because it's a one-turn race.

"He's a fast horse,'' Baffert said. ``"Good sprinters can go a mile and a sixteenth with no problem around one turn.''

Though Baffert said his plans are always subject to change, he said Thursday that Truckle Feature will run in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 5 and, at this stage, Kentucky Cup Juvenile winner Vindication will train up to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Baffert said Truckle Feature displaced his soft palate when he ran third in last Saturday's Futurity at Belmont.

Bullet work for England's Legend

England's Legend, who finished 11th as the favorite in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, geared up for her fall campaign Thursday with a solid half-mile workout in 47.85 seconds over Belmont's turf course. It was the fastest of six moves at the distance by more than a second.

Trainer Christophe Clement said England's Legend will run in next Saturday's $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational as a prep for the Breeders' Cup. Clement said Jerry Bailey will ride England's Legend, who finished second in last year's Flower Bowl.

England's Legend has only run twice this year, winning the Modesty Handicap at Arlington in July before finishing third behind Golden Apples and Astra in the Beverly D.

"I think she's a better horse than she was in the Beverly D.,'' Clement said.

Clement said that Volga, who finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, will run in next Sunday's $750,000 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, a race in which she was beaten a neck last year. Bailey will also ride her.

Clement said he hopes that Voodoo Dancer, who won the Palomar Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 8, receives an invitation to the Flower Bowl. An alternate list of Flower Bowl invitees is due out Sunday.

Bella Bellucci points for Beldame

Bella Bellucci, who finished a disappointing third in the Grade 1 Gazelle last out, will run back in the $750,000 Beldame Stakes on Oct. 5, trainer Neil Drysdale said Thursday.

Drysdale said a slow start was a factor in Bella Bellucci's performance in the Gazelle, in which she made a move into contention around the turn before flattening out under John Velazquez. She was beaten 8 1/2 lengths by Imperial Gesture.

"She was compromised by coming away from the gate slowly and it was an uncharacteristic performance,'' Drysdale said. "That's why we're going to try her again in the Beldame.''

The Beldame could come up a solid race with the likes of Imperial Gesture and Summer Colony among those expected to run.

Drysdale said that Sunday Break, the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, has been shipped back to California, where he will be freshened and pointed to the Strub Series, which begins at Santa Anita in late December.

Drysdale added that Flying Dash, the winner of the Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland and the Hawthorne Derby, is recovering from a pulled ligament in a hind leg and will not run the rest of the year.

Drysdale had hoped to run Magic Mission in Saturday's Noble Damsel Stakes here, but the horse aggravated an eye injury when flown here on Wednesday and was not entered.

Finality tries for elusive victory

Finality, who has finished second in both the Lexington Stakes and the Saranac, will try to secure his first graded stakes victory in Sunday's $200,000 Jamaica Handicap.

In the 1 1/4-mile Lexington, Finality made the lead entering the stretch, but could not hold off Chiselling, who beat him a nose at the wire. Chiselling, who went on to win the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington, is expected to run in the Jamaica.

In the Saranac, at 1 3/16 miles, Finality finished a game second to Ibn al Haitham, who will also line up in the Jamaica.

The long and short of it

How about this for a contrast in daily double payoffs: The early double on Thursday, combining My Girl Nessa ($53.50) and Grand Scheme ($137.50), returned $1,724, the highest-priced double at a NYRA track this year.

The late double, combining True Direction ($2.90) and Sparkling Ava ($4.90), returned $7.80. There were a couple of lower paying doubles during the Saratoga meet.

* Woodward winner Lido Palace worked four furlongs in 49.56 seconds Thursday in preparation for a start in next Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup.