07/01/2004 12:00AM

Cat Fighter faces Allspice

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Graded stakes winners Cat Fighter and Allspice lead a field of five fillies and mares in Saturday's $125,000 Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup at Prairie Meadows.

The Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup is one of two stakes on a card that is topped by the Grade 3, $300,000 Cornhusker.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Cat Fighter finished third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes in January at Santa Anita. She returned at the same track on Feb. 14 and scored a head victory in the Grade 2 La Canada after dueling throughout in the 1 1/8-mile event.

Following a two-month layoff, Cat Fighter finished second behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Mayo on the Side in the Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland. Two weeks later, Cat Fighter set the pace to the stretch before weakening to finish third over a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Cat Fighter, who will again be returning from a two-month layoff, figures to be near the lead Saturday. Pat Day will ride at co-high weight of 123 pounds.

Allspice is the top money-earner in the field, with a bankroll of $308,102 and four wins from career 12 starts. A good chunk of Allspice's earnings came from her 21-1 upset win in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on April 24.

Allspice was off for 10 months before returning in a two-other-allowance at Fair Grounds in February. The layoff was necessitated by the surgical removal of a chip from the 4-year-old filly's right knee, according to trainer Greg Geier.

The Sixty Sails seemed like an ambitious spot for a filly who hadn't won since 2002, but she rallied to score a head victory over heavy favorite Bare Necessities.

"We decided to take a shot and see what happened," said Geier.

Allspice returned to the races following a six-week rest and scored an easy 2 3/4-length allowance win on June 12 at Arlington Park. She won despite being very fractious in the post parade.

"That's just her," said Geier. "She did the same thing in New Orleans in her first start back."

Chris Emigh has a return call aboard Allspice at 123 pounds.

Chance Dance has won five of her seven starts this year for trainer Merrill Scherer. In her most recent effort, Chance Dance scored a head victory in the $75,000 Estrapade Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race June 12 at Arlington. Robby Albarado will ride.

Wildwood Royal has won four of her five starts at Prairie Meadows, including last year's Iowa Oaks, and figures to pressure Cat Fighter early in the Distaff under jockey Danush Sukie.