08/20/2002 11:00PM

East's top two fillies: Let's dance!


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Summer Colony and Dancethruthedawn, who waged an epic duel through the Pimlico stretch in May, will renew acquaintances Friday when they headline a six-horse field entered in the $400,000, Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga.

Summer Colony and Dancethruthedawn are considered the two best handicap fillies in the East, and rank only behind California-based Azeri in the overall divisional standings. They put on quite a show in the Pimlico Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap when Summer Colony outlasted Dancethruthedawn by a nose.

Summer Colony raced four wide early on in that race while Dancethruthedawn was receiving a ground-saving trip. Turning for home, however, it was Summer Colony on the inside and Dancethruthedawn on the outside. The two hooked up at the three-sixteenths pole, but Dancethruthedawn could not get past.

"Either horse could have won. It was a shame you had to have a loser in that race," said Mark Frostad, the trainer of Dancethruthedawn, who on Saturday will break from post 4 under 120 pounds and Jerry Bailey.

"I didn't think we had the best of trips that day," said Mark Hennig, trainer of Summer Colony, who will break from post 5 and carry 120 pounds under John Velazquez.

Since the Pimlico race, each filly has run twice. Dancethruthedawn finished third in the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill before coming back to romp to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap here on July 28.

"She was pretty convincing," Frostad said. "She did that very nicely. Hopefully she can repeat that."

Summer Colony finished second as the 7-10 favorite in the Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth before overcoming a troubled trip to win the Grade 3 Delaware Handicap July 21. It was Summer Colony's eighth win in her last 10 starts.

Her streak began at Saratoga last summer when Summer Colony won an off-the-turf maiden race by 32 3/4 lengths. She came back to win an entry-level allowance race by 9 1/2 lengths, showing an affinity for the Saratoga surface.

Since then, Summer Colony has won the Grade 3 Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct, upset Azeri in the Grade 2 La Canada at Santa Anita, and finished second to Forest Secrets in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream.

With trainer John Kimmel electing not to run the speedy Miss Linda in the Personal Ensign, Summer Colony will be the main speed in the field. While she has learned to rate in her last three starts, Summer Colony has won several races on the front end.

"I'm going to do the same thing I did in the last race, let her put me where she's comfortable," Velazquez said. "If she's on the lead, she'll be fine. She's so versatile she can do anything."

Two Item Limit is winless in 18 months, since taking the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico last year. But she has finished second or third in five graded stakes, including a third-place finish behind Summer Colony in the Delaware Handicap last month when she was in receipt of three pounds from her. Friday, the weight spread will be six pounds.

"I think the distance is probably better for us in the sense that she can run well at the distance maybe the others won't run as well," said Steve DiMauro, trainer of Two Item Limit. "It's a Grade 1, and I'd still like to win a Grade 1 with her. Obviously, the Breeders' Cup is the ultimate goal."

Completing the field are Transcendental, runner-up in the Ogden Phipps and Go for Wand: Critical Eye, a Grade 1 winner; and Starrer, a multiple Grade 2 winner.

The Personal Ensign will be televised live on ESPN2 (5-6 p.m. Eastern). Post time for the race is 5:32 p.m.