08/19/2005 11:00PM

Dream of Summer clearly best in Gardenia


HENDERSON, Ky. - Dream of Summer made the long journey from Southern California a worthwhile one for jockey Corey Nakatani and trainer Juan J. Garcia when the gray mare rallied for an emphatic 4 1/2-length victory Saturday in the $150,000 at Ellis Park.

After rating kindly several lengths off the pace in the one-mile Gardenia, Dream of Summer tipped out for the stretch drive and proved easily best as the favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares. She returned $5.60 to win. The Saturday card was the first on which Nakatani, the successful California veteran, was riding at Ellis.

Tempus Fugit and Southern Surprise staged a prolonged duel for the early lead in the 24th running of the Grade 3 Gardenia, the annual highlight of the Ellis meet and the anchor race in the track's new "Big Four Stakes" program. But they had no answer for Dream of Summer, a California-bred 6-year-old mare who pulled clear for her ninth victory from 15 career starts.

Halory Leigh, the 5-2 second choice who was making her first start in nearly nine months, rallied belatedly to finish second, a half-length before Tempus Fugit.

Dream of Summer, bred and owned by James Weigel, finished one mile in 1:35.32. The main track was rated wet-fast during an afternoon when very hot and humid weather was abated by thunderstorms midway through the 11-race card.

Dream of Summer, whose most notable prior victory came in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn in April, ended a $2 all-stakes pick four that returned $456.40. Handle was $67,291.

Shaconage breaks losing streak in BC Turf

Shaconage broke an 11-race losing streak when outclassing the opposition in the $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf, winning by 4 1/4 lengths after a perfect trip under Brice Blanc.

"I kept asking all summer, 'When is she going to win a race?' " said trainer Mitch Shirota. "I guess today was the day."

Victoire Bataille led most of the way before Shaconage, always in striking range, powered past in early stretch. Sheer Luck, an 11-1 shot, closed steadily to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths before Victoire Bataille.

Shaconage, bred and owned by Andrena Van Doren, returned $3.20 after finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.12 over turf rated good. Although the victory was her first since the Locust Grove in June 2004, she had been very competitive in recent defeats in graded company. Shirota equipped her with blinkers for the first time Saturday.

The Ellis BC Turf was the sixth win in 27 career starts for Shaconage, a 5-year-old gray mare by El Prado.

Red Raymond takes inside path to Juvenile win

Red Raymond ($7), ridden by John McKee, rallied strongly along the inside, actually scraping the rail at one point, before edging clear to a 1 1/4-length score in the $75,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile. Catcominatcha finished second, another 2 1/4 lengths before heavily favored Deputy G.

Red Raymond, owned by Thomas Franks and trained by Bob Holthus, finished seven furlongs in 1:23.59. A Kentucky-bred colt by Deputy Commander, Red Raymond was coming off a July 9 maiden victory at Churchill Downs.

"Fortunately I got lucky and I got through on the rail, and my horse gave me a big kick," said McKee.

Deputy G, the 3-5 choice in a field of six 2-year-olds, led most of the way before being overtaken on both sides by the top two finishers leaving the eighth pole. Jockey Jesus Castanon said early pace pressure from Final Copy "probably killed me."

She Says It Best posts mild upset in Debutante

She Says It Best ($11.20) shot to the early lead under Eddie Martin Jr. and kept widening en route to a seven-length triumph in the seven-furlong, $62,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante. Claremont finished second, while Swept Gold, the 1-2 favorite in a field of five 2-year-old fillies, was never a threat when finishing third. The winning time was 1:23.97.

Vickie Foley, who trains She Says It Best for a partnership that includes herself and breeder Carl Bowling, said the Florida-bred filly underwent minor throat surgery shortly after her last race, an allowance win at Ellis.

"We wanted to make sure she was 100 percent," said Foley.

For Steve Flint, trainer of Swept Gold, the defeat was painful for more than one reason. Before the race in the paddock, Swept Gold suddenly reared up and struck her trainer on the left wrist, possibly fracturing it.

* Danieltown ($4.20), ridden by Rodney Prescott, led every step of the way when holding on to win the six-furlong, $29,325 Bet on Sunshine by a length over Pro Prado.

* Just a few minutes before the fifth race, two subsequent races scheduled for the turf, the sixth and 11th, were transferred to the main track because of a steady rain. Bettors with live pick three tickets from the fourth race were stuck with their sixth-race selections despite the late switch.