09/26/2003 11:00PM

Dimitrova responds to patient ride

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Dimitrova wins the Grade 1, $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Dimitrova, who disappointed as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap here last month, bounced back with authority Saturday, rallying four wide in the stretch to record a one-length victory in the Grade 1 $750,000 at Belmont Park.

Longshot Walzerkoenigin edged 4-5 Heat Haze by a nose for second. Dress to Thrill, Riskaverse, Primetimevalentine, and Snow Dance completed the order of finish.

The victory capped a fantastic day for Irish-based trainer Dermot Weld, who won four races in Ireland, including two stakes.

It was also the 21st Grade 1 stakes victory of the season for jockey Jerry Bailey, eclipsing the mark of 20 set by Mike Smith in 1994. Bailey added his 22nd Grade 1 when he won the Turf Classic with Sulamani. Overall, Bailey has 57 stakes wins, 11 behind Smith's record of 68 also set in 1994.

Dimitrova, a 3-year-old daughter of Swain, won the $750,000 American Oaks against 3-year-olds on July 5 at Hollywood Park. When she returned to the States in September, she lost a clear lead in the stretch and was beaten four lengths by Indy Five Hundred in the Grade 1 Garden City.

Weld told Bailey he would have Dimitrova better prepared for this race and he was right. Weld also asked Bailey if he could wait a little longer before asking the filly to run.

"In the same breath he said if you want to put her on the lead you could do that too,'' Bailey said. "He left it up to me, but if I were to come from out of it maybe her run would be better a little bit later. Once she settled off the pace I said I'm still going to wait even as slow as they were going."

Snow Dance, under Richard Migliore, broke alertly and set fractions of 25.55 seconds, 49.86, and 1:14.99 for the opening three-quarters of a mile. Bailey had Dimitrova in fifth position while racing on the outside. She was in the clear in the stretch and rallied when asked.

Dimitrova, owned by Joseph Higgins, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.74 over an inner turf course labeled firm and returned $9.40 as the second choice.

Weld said Dimitrova would be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

Trainer Bobby Frankel was upset with jockey Jose Valdivia's ride aboard Heat Haze, saying, "She's telling him let me run a little bit and he's trying to get her back behind the last horse."

Frankel said Heat Haze would run in the Filly and Mare Turf.