09/25/2002 11:00PM

Beldame best fit for Mandy's Gold

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Mandy's Gold proved in the Ruffian she is more than just a sprinter. Next Saturday, we will find out where Mandy's Gold fits in the Breeders' Cup Distaff picture when she runs against Summer Colony in the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park.

Trainer Michael Gorham confirmed Thursday that Mandy's Gold would prep for the Distaff in the $750,000 Beldame rather than in the Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 6.

"She won on that track already," Gorham said from his Delaware Park base. "It's an easy trip for me to ship. She came out of her last race really good; she's just doing so good. If we run her one more time then we'll really know where we stack up. Summer Colony is one of the favorites for the Breeders' Cup.''

Mandy's Gold has won five of her last six starts. But, it wasn't until the Ruffian that she earned a chance to run in the Distaff. Mandy's Gold, who had not won beyond seven furlongs, showed the ability to come from off the pace when she rallied from last to win the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian by 2 1/4 lengths.

Others pointing to the Beldame, run at nine furlongs under weight-for-age conditions, are Allamerican Bertie, Bella Bellucci, Imperial Gesture, Minister's Baby, Transcendental, Unrestrained, and possibly Victory Ride.

Harlan's Holiday may face Repent

Should Harlan's Holiday scratch out of Friday night's Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands and run instead in Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, it would be the first time he would face former stablemate Repent in a race.

Ken McPeek, the trainer of Repent, used to train Harlan's Holiday, before owner Jack Wolf made a change to Todd Pletcher the Tuesday of Belmont Stakes week. McPeek had trained Harlan's Holiday to victories in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Blue Grass.

McPeek said he always had an opinion on which horse was better, but declined to reveal it. He did say that Harlan's Holiday is a fighter.

"He's a very, very competitive, tough horse,'' McPeek said. "His biggest asset is his mind and we developed that early in his career in those Ohio-bred races. I don't know that looking him in the eye bothers him. He's got a very big heart, but I do think he's going to have to run faster than he has in his life.''

Edgar Prado was aboard Harlan's Holiday in the Florida Derby, Blue Grass, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness. He rode Repent for the first time in last month's Travers, in which he finished second to Medaglia d'Oro.

"`[Harlan's Holiday] has tactical speed and in a race that has no speed you can place him wherever you want,'' said Prado, who noted that Repent may be more comfortable at 1 1/4 miles. Prado added, "I wouldn't say that horse wouldn't go the distance. They are two nice horses.''

Man From Wicklow keeps trying hard

Man From Wicklow has been beaten a total of 3 1/2 lengths in his last two starts, both Grade 1 stakes. His trainer and co-owner, Rick Violette, hopes the third time is the charm for Man From Wicklow when he runs in Sunday's Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park.

In his Grade 1 debut, Man From Wicklow, a 5-year-old, finished a good fourth in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga and was beaten only two lengths by the winner, With Anticipation. What made the effort all the more impressive was that Man From Wicklow stumbled badly after clipping heels early in the 1 1/2-mile race.

Encouraged by Man From Wicklow's performance in the Sword Dancer, Violette ran him back in the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War at Belmont Park on Sept. 7. He ran well again, finishing third, beaten less than two lengths, again by With Anticipation. Man From Wicklow's rider, Javier Castellano, lost his whip in deep stretch, but Violette said he doesn't believe that had a big effect on the outcome.

"He's getting better with age," Violette said. "He's a rock-solid horse and has taken a significant leap in quality in his last two starts. He confirmed it at equal weights in his last race. I was concerned about him picking up [12 pounds]. He legitimized himself in the Man o' War."

Violette, who owns 40 percent of Man From Wicklow, bought the horse privately as a weanling and put together a partnership of several people when the horse was a 2-year-old. The trainer said one of the reasons Man From Wicklow has blossomed into a Grade 1 competitor this year is that he isn't plagued with the bleeding problem he had when he was younger.

"Sometimes when horses bleed it takes their bravery away," Violette said. "He's very healthy now because we try to protect him from everything from dust to allergies."

Violette said he would consider running Man From Wicklow in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 if the gelding were to run a big race in the $750,000 Turf Classic.

Violette, 49, has never won a Grade 1 or saddled a horse in the Breeders' Cup.

"I'm trying to concentrate on [Sunday] and not get too far ahead," he said. "Winning this race would be a life-altering deal for me. Running here is a big deal for me."

Castellano retains the mount on Man From Wicklow in the Turf Classic, a weight-for-age race.

The other probables for the 1 1/2-mile Turf Classic are last year's winner, Timboroa, With Anticipation, Denon, Blazing Fury, Delta Form, Kim Loves Bucky, Ulundi, and Whitmore's Conn.

Sweet Samantha uncertain for Gimma

Sweet Samantha, a 22 3/4-length winner of a New York-bred maiden race at Saratoga, likely will be entered in Sunday's $75,000-added Joseph Gimma, but whether she starts in the restricted 2-year-old filly stakes is up in the air.

Sweet Samantha followed her maiden win on Aug. 29 with a 7 3/4-length victory in the Concord Stakes at Rockingham Park last Sunday. The filly's trainer, Herman Kinchen, said he wanted to see how Sweet Samantha trained on Friday and Saturday before deciding whether to run her in the Gimma.

"I ran her last weekend because I was trying to get a race and some seasoning into her," Kinchen said. "She came out of the race good, but the main thing is how she is the next couple of days. This is a pretty nice filly."

Kinchen said he usually doesn't run horses in New York and that is why Michael Aro was listed as the trainer for Sweet Samantha's first start.

The probables for the Joseph Gimma are Beautiful America, Behrnik, Doc's Doll, I'll Be the One, Majorannouncement, Marc's Rainbow, Mischieviously, and Senorita American.

Sunday's card also features the $75,000 Bertram F. Bongard, a restricted 2-year-old stakes for colts and geldings. Among those expected for the seven-furlong race are Infinite Justice, Funny Cide, Spite the Devil, Storm Cadet, and Unswept.

Storm Flag Flying works for Frizette

Storm Flag Flying, the 12 3/4-length winner of the Matron Stakes, was credited with a half-mile breeze in 52.20 seconds Thursday over Belmont's main track. Trainer Shug McGaughey actually had her three furlongs in 37.40 seconds.

"Just trying to get settled down after she ran,'' McGaughey said about the work. "I'll do something more with her Monday or Tuesday, depending on the racetrack.''

Storm Flag Flying will make her next start in the Grade 1 Frizette here Oct. 5. As of Thursday, the competition was expected to include Appleby Gardens, Cyber Secret, Fabulous Brush, Fircroft, Fortuitous, Harford Ghost, and possibly Danuta.

* Medaglia d'Oro worked six furlongs in 1:13.61 in company on Thursday in his most serious move since winning the Travers on Aug. 24.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson