09/16/2003 11:00PM

Bird Town faces heavies in Beldame


ELMONT, N.Y. - The 3-year-old filly championship could be on the line in the Grade 1, $750,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 4.

Trainer Nick Zito confirmed on Wednesday that Bird Town, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn, would make her next start in the Beldame, a nine-furlong race for fillies and mares 3 and up. Trainer Barclay Tagg indicated earlier this week that Island Fashion, the Alabama winner, is also likely to run in the Beldame. Lady Tak, the Test winner, is also possible.

If those 3-year-old fillies start, they would have to meet either Sightseek or Wild Spirit, both trained by Bobby Frankel and among the top three older fillies and mares in training. Summer Colony, a Grade 1-winning older filly, is also being considered for the Beldame.

Bird Town, who beat Lady Tak in the Acorn, but who finished behind her in the Test, last raced in the Alabama where she finished a well-beaten fifth of six. Bird Town had no real excuse in the race, but Zito said she has been training extremely well since that race.

"She couldn't be doing any better,'' Zito said from Saratoga. "We're heading for the Beldame. Frankel's fillies look great, but we got to hook them someday. We're not the only one in this position.''

Barclay Tagg is in the same position with Island Fashion, who won the Alabama by six lengths but who came back and finished fourth in the Gazelle on Sept. 6. Island Fashion worked four furlongs in 50.45 seconds on Wednesday.

"The owner [Jeffrey Nielsen] wants to run her in the Beldame, I want to run her in the Cotillion,'' said Tagg, referring to a $250,000 race restricted to 3-year-old fillies at Philadelphia Park the same day. "He's a pretty lucky guy so I'm going to do whatever he wants to do with her. We'll probably put her in both and then decide. If she was able to win the Beldame against older horses that would be a feather in her cap.''

Earlier this week, trainer Steve Asmussen mentioned the possibility of Lady Tak running in the Beldame, the Spinster on Oct. 5, or simply training her up to the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Spoken Fur, who is also in the running for divisional honors based on victories in the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks, is being pointed to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland Oct. 11.

Kelly keeping 'Evening' options open

Trainer Pat Kelly wishes Hurricane Isabel would come next week.

Kelly is the trainer of Evening Attire, who excels over a wet track. Kelly said weather could play a determining factor in choosing a next race for Evening Attire. Kelly's choices are the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup - a race he won last year - on Sept. 27, the $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Sept. 28, or the $400,000 Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 3.

Kelly seems to be leaning toward the Jockey Club Gold Cup and said the Hawthorne Gold Cup is his last resort.

"I like to stay at home, that's the only lean I have,'' Kelly said. "He's never won anywhere else but [New York].''

Evening Attire ran three times in 33 days at Saratoga, winning two allowance races sandwiched around a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap. He has recently worked twice at Belmont, including a half-mile in 49.40 seconds last Saturday over the training track.

Sixteen horses were nominated to the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Mineshaft and Moon Ballad are the only definite starters. Empire Maker, Evening Attire, Dynever, and Saarland are under consideration for the race.

Wednesday, Saarland worked six furlongs in 1:14.25 in company with Congrats, who was credited with a time of 1:14.45. McGaughey said Saarland could run in either the nine-furlong Meadowlands Cup or the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup.

"Depends on what they want to do,'' McGaughey said, referring to the Phipps family, which owns Saarland. "I don't think distance would be a problem, he just hasn't run good for a while.''

Patrol, Hidden Truth injured

Patrol and Hidden Truth, two promising turf colts, will be out for the remainder of the year after suffering injuries.

Patrol, who won the Dallas Turf Cup in June, pulled a small piece off the top of the sesamoid bone in his right hind leg, according to trainer Bill Mott.

Mott said it had not yet been decided if Patrol would need surgery.

"We're trying to determine that now,'' Mott said. "He's just going to need some time. He's got a small fracture.''

Hidden Truth, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes here in July, suffered a fractured cannon bone in his right foreleg, trainer Neil Howard said.

Hidden Truth, a 3-year-old son of Danzig owned by Will Farish and Temple Webber, suffered the injury while finishing third in a third-level allowance race here on Sept. 10.

Howard said Dr. Stephen Selway performed surgery and used four screws to stabilize the bone.

"It wasn't bad, the only problem was it kind of branched out a little at the top," Howard said. "That's why Dr. Selway had to put a fourth screw in. He's such a nice horse, I was sick.''

* Trademark, who won both the Bernard Baruch and Fourstardave handicaps at Saratoga, worked four furlongs in 48.70 seconds over a good Saratoga turf course. He is being pointed to the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 4.

* Statement, who is the 121-pound highweight for Saturday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.53 over Saratoga's turf course. Statement, a son of Seattle Slew, is coming off a neck victory over Request for Parole in a classified allowance race at Saratoga on Aug. 30.

* Yell, who finished fourth in the Grade 1 Ballerina last time out, worked four furlongs in 47.65 seconds Wednesday at Belmont. McGaughey is pointing her to the Grade 3, $150,000 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 10.