07/01/2003 11:00PM

Ballingarry should feel at home on local grass


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Ballingarry was a 9-1 outsider the last time he raced on Arlington's turf course, but this weekend he takes center stage. Ballingarry shipped here Tuesday from trainer Laura de Seroux's stable in Southern California to start Saturday in the Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Handicap, where he's certain to be favored.

With a Wednesday morning gallop, Ballingarry got his first feel for the Arlington grass course since he finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Turf here last fall. And it is the turf course itself - with its wide, sweeping turns - that de Seroux hopes will move Ballingarry forward.

"This horse is more suited to the Arlington turf course," de Seroux said Wednesday as she prepared to board a Chicago-bound plane. "The California turf tracks are fast and tight, and he's a galloper."

Ballingarry, a 4-year-old, was imported from Ireland last fall and easily won the Grade 1 Canadian International in his North American debut. His moderate performance in the Breeders' Cup aside, expectations ran high for his 2003 campaign, but Ballingarry finished seventh in the Arcadia Handicap in his first start of the year. Ballingarry was much better May 10, when he finished third behind Storming Home and Denon, arguably the top two 12-furlong turf horses in the country in the Jim Murray.

"His third in the Jim Murray was a good race," de Seroux said. "I specifically pointed him for this race right after that. I knew a mile and a half on this European-style course would be good for him. He needs to win a race right now."

As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, eight others had been entered in the Grade 2, $200,000-added Stars and Stripes. Ballingarry will be the 121-pound highweight, with the next-highest weighted starter Dr. Brendler, a soft-turf specialist from the East Coast.

Another comeback for Summer Note

Summer Note worked five furlongs in 1:03.80 here Tuesday, a signal that his return from another long layoff due to injury isn't far away.

Summer Note, 6, hasn't raced since July 4, 2002, when he finished third in the Tom Fool at Belmont during an abbreviated campaign. And the three starts Summer Note made then came more than two years after he had last run, as a 3-year-old.

Summer Note's an exceptionally fast horse - he has won 4 of 6 starts, including the Grade 2 Hutcheson - but a troublesome tendon has sliced his career into short bursts of activity. Beyond the physical problems are the demons in his head. His trainer, Richard Hazelton, said Summer Note has a deep nasty streak.

But Hazelton is laboring once again to bring Summer Note back, and his Tuesday workout, his longest breeze this summer, was another positive step. Hazelton had Summer Note training in Chicago last season, but before the horse's comeback race, his owner, Greg Bensinger, shipped him to trainer Barclay Tagg in New York. This time, Hazelton said, Summer Note is expected to make his comeback at Arlington.

"He's getting close," Hazelton said. "I'm not going to ask him too much [in his works], maybe a little bit one time. His leg's been pretty good. I'm going on with him. Either he makes it or he doesn't."

Strong, select turf group

Only five fillies were entered in Friday's $45,000-added Possibly Perfect Stakes, but try separating them. Attico, Delmonico Cat, Peacefally, Stormy Society, and Yalta - any one of them can win the Possibly Perfect, a 1 1/16-mile grass race.

Attico keeps making big late runs from the back of big fields and coming up short. Fewer horses means less traffic this time, but the short field also could lead to a pace slow enough to hurt her chances.

The true speed of the race probably is Stormy Society, who comes off a win over $20,000 starter allowance horses at Churchill. Class seems like an issue, but Stormy Society hails from the hot barn of trainer Becky Maker, who has had success on grass, and may have a pace edge.

Delmonico Cat, in from Kentucky for the Bill Mott barn, is the likely pace-presser. She exits a second-level allowance win at Churchill, while Peacefally, an Irish-bred, French-raced import, won a first-level allowance race there last out in dominant fashion.

And that leaves Yalta, who overcame a slow pace and won a third-level turf allowance race here June 11 in one of the best races of her career.