10/06/2004 11:00PM

Balletto should get pace she needs


ELMONT, N.Y. - Balletto got closer to Sense of Style than anyone has yet. With Sense of Style racing out of town, Balletto figures the one to beat in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Frizette at Belmont Park.

Balletto will be a slight favorite in the Frizette, a 1 1/16-mile race that drew a field of eight and should produce a few runners for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

, a daughter of 1994 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Timber Country, won her first two starts, both at Saratoga. In the Matron, Balletto encountered some traffic trouble around the turn and in the stretch, but still closed well to be beaten just one length by Sense of Style, who is undefeated.

"There was a strong headwind that day and the pace was slow, and we sat closer to the pace than I expected her to, but she was running so easily," said trainer Tom Albertrani. "Being on the inside, she couldn't keep her momentum going around the turn. Turning for home she had a little traffic trouble. She finally got clear and she found her best stride late.

"I feel if she puts in the same effort as her last race, I think she should be right there. She certainly could be the one to beat."

Corey Nakatani rides Balletto from the rail.

The pace should be swifter in the Frizette than in the Matron. Sis City, a 16-length winner of a minor stakes at Monmouth on Sept. 12, and J P Jewel, a front-running maiden winner going seven furlongs at Saratoga, are likely to be part of the early pace.

Play With Fire and Ready's Gal appear to be the stiffest challengers to Balletto.

finished three-quarters of a length behind Balletto when third in the Matron. Trainer Mark Hennig said he felt Play With Fire may have faltered late after taking first run at Sense of Style around the far turn.

Though Play With Fire is a daughter of Boundary, Hennig says she can get the 1 1/16 miles.

"There's certainly plenty of pedigree on the bottom side to warrant she could run on," said Hennig, who won the 2000 Frizette with Raging Fever.

won two races at Saratoga despite breaking poorly in both races. She made up more than 12 lengths to win a five-furlong race Aug. 5, before overcoming another bad break to win a 6 1/2-furlong entry-level allowance race by two lengths Aug. 30.

"I think the good thing about both of those races is that she got an education in them," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "A lot of times you win first time out, but you're on the lead the whole way and you never really overcome any adversity. And when things don't go your way in a bigger race down the road, it can work against you. In this filly's case she's only had two starts, but she's had a fair amount of seasoning in both of them."

Darn That Girl had a foot injury when fourth in the Schuylerville, and she bled when fourth in the Matron. Trainer Rick Violette said Darn That Girl had a clean endoscopic examination Thursday.

Comacina returns to facing fillies after finishing last in the Futurity. Shebelongstoyou, who won her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths with Lasix added, was cross-entered in Friday's Alcibiades at Keeneland.

The field

Purse: $500,000; 1 1/16 miles; Grade 1

1BallettoC. Nakatani5-2
2Sis CityE. Coa8-1
3ShebelongstoyouJ. Bravo20-1
4J P JewelJ. Castellano10-1
5Play With FireP. Fragoso3-1
6Darn That GirlC. Velasquez6-1
7ComacinaT. Farina9-2
8Ready's GalJ. Velazquez6-1

* All starters carry 120 pounds
* Odds by Brian Pochman