07/18/2004 11:00PM

Buy the Sport gives grass another try


ELMONT, N.Y. - Wednesday starts the countdown at Belmont Park's 61-day spring meet, which concludes Sunday. The card features a pick six carryover of $51,986 and a stakes-quality turf race for fillies and mares, which includes Grade 1 winner Buy the Sport.

Buy the Sport, who won last year's Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont on the dirt, is among seven runners in Wednesday's seventh race, an optional claimer with a purse of $56,000. Katzen is the only horse entered for the $100,000 claiming price in the one-mile Widener turf race.

Buy the Sport makes her first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 25. A New York-bred champion, Buy the Sport was entered to run in the Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap in April at Aqueduct, but was scratched the morning of the race when she suffered from colic.

Before winning the Gazelle in September, Buy the Sport raced in Europe and was trained by Brian Meehan. Peter Minikes and partners purchased Buy the Sport last summer. She came to New York several days before the Gazelle and ran in Meehan's name. She was immediately transferred to Bobby Barbara after winning the race at odds of 48-1.

In Europe, Buy the Sport won one turf race - her career debut - in seven starts. All of her turf losses came in group races.

In preparation for her return, Buy the Sport has been work sharply, including a bullet move in 59.90 seconds for five furlongs last Friday on Belmont's main track.

Barbara, who is 2 for 52 at the meet, has named Edgar Prado to ride. Buy the Sport drew post 4.

If rain forces the race to be moved to the main track, Buy the Sport is the pick.

If the race is run on turf, Where We Left Off looks like the horse to beat. The filly won three consecutive races, including two minor stakes, before finishing second in her last start in the Dr. Penny Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park on July 3.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Where We Left Off lost the 1 1/16-mile Dr. Penny by a nose.

"She's an amazingly consistent filly," said Clement, who will not run his filly if the turf is soft. "I think this is a good spot."

Jean-Luc Samyn rides Where We Left Off, who drew the inside post.

Katzen is coming off a win in optional claimer here on July 8 in a 1 1/8-mile race.

Proud Beauty has run well at Belmont and at the mile distance. Feisty Bull is the main speed.