10/20/2009 12:00AM

Belle Allure finds good spot


ELMONT, N.Y. - It is not by design that Belle Allure has raced only three times this year. Trainer Christophe Clement has simply had a difficult time finding the appropriate races for the 4-year-old Irish-bred filly. In Wednesday's $100,000 Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park, Clement appears to have found the ideal spot to make Belle Allure a Grade 3 winner in North America.

The Athenia, which drew seven for the turf and two main-track-only entrants, was originally scheduled for last Saturday but was postponed due to inclement weather, which rendered the turf courses useless since last Friday.

The forecast looks promising for the Athenia to remain on the turf as dry conditions are expected through midweek and warmer temperatures as well. Though the turf still figures to remain on the soft side, Belle Allure did win a Group 3 stakes in 2008 over soft turf in France.

In four starts in the United States, Belle Allure caught less than firm ground just once, finishing third to Bubbly Jane in the here July 22. That race was run at 1 1/4 miles; the Athenia is at 1 1/16 miles, a distance at which Belle Allure has already won.

"I thought she ran very well every single race," said Clement, who has run her three times. "The mile and quarter was maybe a little too far and last time" - a second-place finish to a loose-on-the-lead Leamington in the at Saratoga - "the winner controlled things.

"It's a logical step, it's a great spot for her," Clement added. "As long as she handles the soft turf, I think she'll run good."

Ramon Dominguez rides Belle Allure from post 4 as the co-highweight at 120 pounds.

Kristi With a K looms the major threat coming off a at Saratoga on Sept. 3. She has finished in the top three in eight of her nine starts this year, during which she has learned to conserve her energy.

"She's done so much better since she's learned to rate," said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg.

Sunshine for Life upset at 23-1 but has not won since. Trainer Richard Schosberg said a breathing issue was discovered in July that has since cleared, and he's expecting an improved performance Wednesday though he is leery of soft ground.

Rollicking Affair, Miss Lombardi, Namaste's Wish, and Cable complete the field.