11/01/2001 12:00AM

'Belle' back where she belongs - Big A


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Be it the main track or the inner track, Strolling Belle has shown an affinity for Aqueduct, earning five of her nine career victories here between the months of November and December.

Trainer John Kimmel hopes that love affair continues on Saturday when Strolling Belle takes on five rivals in the Grade 3 $100,000, Turnback the Alarm Handicap for fillies and mares at nine furlongs. At 118 pounds, Strolling Belle will be the starting highweight, conceding five to seven pounds to the rest of the field.

Strolling Belle, a 5-year-old daughter of Strolling Along, is 3 for 6 over Aqueduct's main track, including two wins at nine furlongs. The Turnback the Alarm is her third start off a layoff and should serve as a good prep for the Dec. 22 Ladies Handicap, a race Strolling Belle has won the last two years.

Kimmel believes that Strolling Belle is better around two turns, which may explain why she has enjoyed success at Aqueduct. Kimmel also believes she is better from off the pace, which may explain why he was upset with jockey Eibar Coa, who had the filly on the lead in the Long Look Handicap at The Meadowlands on Sept. 28. Strolling Belle finished second, but was disqualified and placed fourth after Coa inadvertently struck Poivre in the face with his whip.

Kimmel has replaced Coa with John Velazquez for the Turnback the Alarm, but Velazquez may have trouble keeping Strolling Belle from making the lead. There is very little speed in the race and Strolling Belle may find herself on the front end breaking from the rail.

"I'd rather see her settle in midpack and make one run and preferably get to the outside," Kimmel said.

Indy Bird, who won the Pennsylvania Oaks two back, looks the like the other speed breaking from post 6 under Jose Santos.

Unrestrained may be the one to beat in the Turnback the Alarm. Three starts back, she ran a solid second behind Unbridled Elaine in the Monmouth Oaks. Unbridled Elaine came back to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff. After finishing last in the 10-furlong Alabama at Saratoga, Unrestrained was freshened and came back to win the Summit Handicap at The Meadowlands, benefiting from a fast pace she may not get here. Coa rides from post 3.

"I think her race at The Meadowlands was better than it looked," trainer Mark Hennig said. "It's not easy to come from out of it at The Meadowlands."

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