08/08/2007 11:00PM

Citronnade faces test in strong Beverly D.


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Citronnade has become the undisputed turf queen out West, while Honey Ryder keeps outgaming and outlasting everything back East. Lady of Venice has gone unbeaten in three starts while based in Kentucky all year, and Irridescence has raced everywhere from South Africa to Hong Kong to Dubai to Great Britain.

The Chicago convergence of these standout fillies and mares gives the $750,000 Beverly D. at Arlington Park yet another sensational renewal, and there can be little doubt the race will be pivotal in determining divisional honors once again this year. Toward that end, the Grade 1 Beverly D. is one of the 24 "Win and You're In" races, granting the winner an automatic berth into the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Monmouth Park.

As a confirmed front-runner, Citronnade will be making the earliest bid to win and be in. Her California rivals have found her impossible to catch all year, as she has led throughout in knocking out four straight graded races: the Grade 2 San Gorgonio, Grade 2 Santa Ana, Grade 1 Gamely, and Grade 2 Beverly Hills. Surely a key to victory for Citronnade will be how she and jockey David Flores handle expected pressure Saturday from Jennie R., a locally based mare who figures as the longest shot in a field of seven. Citronnade will break from post 1.

"We're going to let her run out of the gate," said Bobby Frankel, who trains Citronnade for her breeder-owner, Stronach Stables, "but if that other filly goes, we can track, too."

Frankel, who won the Beverly D. in 1995 with Possibly Perfect and in 2003 with Heat Haze, acknowledged that the Beverly D. is critical in Citronnade's bid for a championship and that the 1 3/16-mile distance should pose no problem.

"She'll run as far as you want," he said. "She's got a very high cruising speed."

Similarly, Honey Ryder has a very high tracking speed, if such a thing exists, and if Citronnade falters, she figures to be among the first to pounce. A remarkably consistent 6-year-old, Honey Ryder has grinded out more than $2.3 million in earnings from 31 starts, winning 13 times and finishing in the money in 11 more races. Her trainer, Todd Pletcher, is expected to be on hand for all of the International Festival of Racing events.

From farther back in the pack, Lady of Venice poses a major stretch threat. Like Citronnade, she is unbeaten this year, having extended her win streak to three with a stirring late rally in the Grade 2 CashCall Mile five weeks ago at Hollywood Park. A victory by Lady of Venice, a 4-year-old French-bred who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, would mark an unprecedented third straight victory in the Beverly D. for owner Martin Schwartz and trainer Patrick Biancone. The orange and blue Schwartz silks were carried to victory by Angara two years ago and by Gorella last year.

Schwartz said Biancone has compared Lady of Venice to All Along, the filly that Biancone trained to win the 1983 Horse of the Year title.

"That's some pretty heady company," Schwartz said. "She's a typical European horse where she needs to be tucked in or covered up. She has this explosive kick like Gorella had. Hopefully, she'll show it again Saturday."

Irridescence is the unknown quantity of the group. A multiple group winner and earner of more than $1.4 million, the 6-year-old mare has gone winless in her last five starts, albeit while racing against some of the world's finest.

The Beverly D. lineup is completed by Lahudood and Royal Highness.

This is the 18th running of the Beverly D., which has produced four divisional champions from its roster of winners: Flawlessly (1993), Hatoof (1994), Possibly Perfect (1995), and Golden Apples (2002). As the eighth of 12 Saturday races, it is the middle race in a Festival Pick Three that carries a $250,000 guaranteed pool.