09/05/2007 11:00PM

Euros challenge Rutherienne


ELMONT, N.Y. - After conquering virtually every 3-year-old turf filly in North America, Rutherienne now takes on the world as three European invaders spice up a strong running of Saturday's Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park.

A field of 10 was entered for the $250,000 Garden City, including Irish import Alexander Tango, the British-bred Costume, and the French-based, Kentucky-bred Missvinski. Valbenny and Sharp Susan, recent victims of Rutherienne, are also entered.

"When you train the better one you worry less about the new ones," said Christophe Clement, who trains Rutherienne for owner-breeder Virginia Kraft Payson.

Rutherienne, a daughter of Pulpit, brings a five-race winning streak into the Garden City, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over Belmont's inner turf course. She has won twice here, once at Monmouth, Saratoga, and, most recently, at Del Mar, where she displayed a devastating turn of foot to beat Valbenny by two lengths in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

"She's got an electric turn of foot," Clement said. "With a fast pace she's got a very good turn of foot."

Though this will be Rutherienne's fourth race in 10 weeks, Clement said he doesn't mind being this aggressive with a filly who can take her races this well.

"We all worry too much about the bounce," said Clement, who won this race in 2001 with Voodoo Dancer. "If they're doing well and they look good and they're training well, let's go. They're still racehorses at the end of the day."

Rutherienne will break from post 10 under Garrett Gomez. As the 122-pound highweight Rutherienne will spot two to six pounds to the rest of the field.

Alexander Tango, a daughter of Danehill Dancer, is the most experienced of the trio of European runners. She won the 1000 Irish Guineas Trial by three lengths before getting beat 2 1/4 lengths in the 1000 Irish Guineas. After winning a minor stakes at the Curragh, she finished second to Eagle Mountain when facing males last month in the UAE Royal Whip Stakes, a Group 2 at the Curragh over heavy ground.

"She probably couldn't get hold of the ground, it was very, very heavy," said James Stack, son of trainer Tommy Stack. "She wants fast ground. We've been waiting all summer for it to happen and it never has."

Alexander Tango will break from post 7 under Shaun Bridgmohan.

Costume, a daughter of Danehill owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, has 1 win from 6 career starts. But that lone win was versus males and she is coming off a second-place finish in the Oak Tree Stakes, a Group 3 event at Goodwood last month. Trainer John Gosden said Costume wants firm ground and said her versatile running style is what makes her dangerous.

"She can do anything, really," he said. "No pace, she can go to the lead; fast pace, she can come from off it. She's an improving filly. I see her getting better with age."

Gosden noted that Costume will remain in this country with Bobby Frankel.

Rafael Bejarano rides Costume from post 4.

Missvinski, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Stravinsky, also is 1 for 6. She was beaten just a half-length by multiple group winner Darjina in the Prix d'Astarte, a Group 1 at Deauville in July. Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget is confident Missvinski will run well if she handles the left-handed course, something she has not raced over yet.

"We are very confident because I think she's a Group 1 filly," Rouget said. "If she handles the track, she'll not be far from the winner."

Christophe Patrick Lemaire has come over to ride Missvinski.

Completing the field are Bit of Whimsy, who dead-heated with Rutherienne in the Sands Point; Sharp Susan, who won the Lake Placid; and Street Sounds, Chestoria, and New Edition.