07/27/2004 11:00PM

Belleski gets her year going

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Belleski's streak of eight consecutive finishes in the top three ended last November, when she ran last of 14 in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park.

The resounding defeat came with an excuse: She emerged from the race with an ankle injury.

On Friday, Belleski, 5, makes her first start of 2004 in the $75,000 Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar. Trainer John Sadler considers the Daisycutter a launch to more important stakes in the summer and fall.

The winner of the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita last October, Belleski may return in the Grade 2 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf Sept. 4 - if she runs well Friday.

"It would be nice to win a Grade 2 with her this year," Sadler said.

Run at five furlongs on turf for fillies and mares, the Daisycutter is the first sprint stakes on turf at this meeting.

Belleski will need a top effort to beat a field that has several tough female turf sprinters.

The main competition comes from Market Garden, who won two turf sprints at Hollywood Park; the speedy stakes winner Ican'tgoforthat, who is winless in her last six races; and The Toast of Troy, who won two turf sprints at Hollywood Park in the spring before finishing behind Market Garden.

Market Garden was claimed for $80,000 by Sid and Jenny Craig and trainer Bill Spawr on July 15, her most recent start.

Although Belleski is arguably better between 6 1/2 furlongs and a mile, Sadler says he thinks she can be effective at five furlongs following a layoff.

"I think 6 1/2 furlongs may be better than five, but this is her first race back," Sadler said. "She sits a little off it."

Ican'tgoforthat will have company on the front from Final Discount and Shezsospiritual.

Ican'tgoforthat was seventh in this race last year after failing to reach the front. She finished sixth in the Vacaville Stakes at the Solano County Fair on July 17, a race that puzzled trainer Steve Knapp.

"It just doesn't make sense," Knapp said. "I'm hoping she just didn't like the track."

Knapp insists Ican'tgoforthat will be part of the pace in the Daisycutter.

"She's one-dimensional," Knapp said. "She has to go to the lead. When she's on the lead, she fights. When she's behind, she doesn't fight."