08/04/2001 12:00AM

Ela Athena vs. boys in Sword Dancer


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ela Athena, a top mare in Europe, will ship to the United States early this week to face males in Saturday's Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga. She will look to join Anka Germania (1988) as the only mares to win the 12-furlong turf race.

Running against males is nothing new for Ela Athena. A 5-year-old daughter of Ezzoud, Ela Athena has faced males in her last six starts, finishing second four times.

Last fall, she faced males twice at Belmont Park, running second to Fantastic Light in the Man o' War Stakes and third behind John's Call in the Turf Classic Invitational. Most recently, she finished second, beaten a head, in the Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano in Italy.

"She ran well at Belmont last year on turf in America and she's owned by Gary Tanaka, who is very keen on racing in North America," said trainer Michael Jarvis. "We thought it would be an opportunity for her to win a Grade 1."

Ela Athena has raced only twice this year, finishing second both times.

"We purposely gave her a light spring because it is our intention to race her extensively this fall," said Jarvis, who has not decided whether she will race in the Breeders' Cup.

Ela Athena was assigned 117 pounds, 13 fewer than she carried last time in Europe. She will get three pounds from expected starting highweights John's Call, last year's Sword Dancer winner, and King Cugat. Others expected to run are Honor Glide (114), who is the 1999 Sword Dancer winner, and With Anticipation (114).

Real Cozzy drills for Alabama

Real Cozzy, runner-up to Fleet Renee in the Grade 1 Mother Goose, drilled five furlongs in 1:00.49 Saturday over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 18. Clockers caught her first three-quarters in 35.80 seconds and her last quarter in 24.69. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.

Trainer Danny Peitz was not only pleased with the work, he's been thrilled with Real Cozzy's progress since she arrived in Saratoga.

"From the first day we stepped on the training track here she's been a lot happier than she was at Belmont," Peitz said. "I thought she was doing good at Belmont. Maybe she wasn't doing as good as I thought she was. She's been stronger in her gallops and her breezes."

During the spring, Real Cozzy was plagued by chronic back problems. Since coming to Saratoga, Peitz said Real Cozzy's back "is as good as it's been all year long."

Peitz said Real Cozzy would have another breeze next Saturday. He said Larry Melancon, Real Cozzy's regular rider, will fly in to ride her in the Alabama.

In other Alabama news, trainer Stephen DiMauro said Jorge Chavez will replace Richard Migliore aboard Two Item Limit. DiMauro said Migliore, who rode Two Item Limit to victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in May, would not commit to riding Two Item Limit after two poor efforts.

Rice thrilled with City Zip

Trainer Linda Rice on Saturday morning was still basking in the effort City Zip put in Friday to win the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes. Dueling with Speightstown virtually every step of the way, City Zip prevailed by a length over that rival.

"If he was ever going to get beat, it was yesterday," Rice said Saturday morning. "A first quarter of 21-and-three, being down on the inside, bumping around the turn with a nice horse laying on top of him. But he's special."

City Zip is 4 for 4 at Saratoga, all in graded stakes.

Rice said City Zip came out of the Amsterdam in good shape and will be pointed to the Grade 1 King's Bishop here Aug. 25. That race is at seven furlongs a distance at which City Zip won the Hopeful here last September. Overall, he is 1 for 3 at that distance.

"I've always thought he might prefer seven over six," Rice said. "I guess time will tell."

Dayton's Flyer will try turf

Disappointed with Dayton Flyer's recent dirt efforts, trainer Bob Barbara will try the 3-year-old colt on turf in Monday's Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes.

Dayton Flyer, an Honour and Glory colt, was a highly touted first-time starter here last summer, but finished fourth in his debut at even money. He has won two of 10 starts and most recently finished fourth in the Long Branch Breeder's Cup at Monmouth Park.

Last Monday, jockey Richard Migliore breezed Dayton Flyer on the turf and he went five furlongs in 1:00. Migliore will ride him Monday.

"Richie worked him and he loved the way he went," Barbara said. "I nominated him before we came up here just in case. He's out of a Nijinksy mare, no reason why he can't [run on turf]."

Barbara also reported that Baby Nance, the beaten favorite in the opening-day Schuylerville, came out of that race with a "pretty severe bruised foot." She was scheduled to return to the track on Sunday for the first time since the race. Plans for her next start are undetermined.