10/03/2006 11:00PM

Fleet Indian, Spun Sugar to get major tests


Spun Sugar and Fleet Indian have certainly accomplished enough this year to be considered the top two older females in training. But it's what happens this weekend that will truly determine how strong a contender each is for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Spun Sugar, who will head a prospective nine-horse field in Sunday's Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland, is the only member of the division to have recorded two Grade 1 victories this year. In April, she won the Apple Blossom by a neck over Happy Ticket, and on July 30, her most recent start, she won the Go for Wand Handicap by nose over Balletto.

Spun Sugar, a daughter of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup and would have to be supplemented at a cost of $180,000. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he and owner Frank Stronach have agreed to wait until after the Spinster to address that issue.

Though Spun Sugar did win the Apple Blossom four weeks after winning an allowance race, Pletcher said the filly has benefited from more time between races. The Spinster will be Spun Sugar's first start in 10 weeks. The Breeders' Cup is 27 days from the Spinster.

"It's nice that we've been able to space our races out this year and pick our spots," Pletcher said.

Spun Sugar's only poor race this year came at Belmont Park when she was fourth in the Ogden Phipps, run around one turn. That, in part, is why Pletcher has shipped her to Keeneland to run the Spinster, run around two turns over the new Polytrack surface.

In the Spinster, Spun Sugar will have a rematch with Happy Ticket, who came back from her narrow loss in the Apple Blossom to win the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill before finishing second to Healthy Addiction in the Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 6.

Others pointing to the Spinster are Lemons Forever, this year's Kentucky Oaks winner; Summerly, last year's Kentucky Oaks winner; Promenade Girl, winner of the Molly Pitcher; Sharp Lisa; Ex Caelis; Soul Search; and Asi Siempre, a Grade 1 winner on the turf.

Fleet Indian, also trained by Pletcher, has been the surprise of the division this year. Since being purchased by Paul Saylor out of the horses of all ages sale in January at Keeneland, Fleet Indian has won all five of her starts, including the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga. Fleet Indian, who has won seven straight races overall, has been the controlling speed in the majority of her starts this year.

In Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame at Belmont Park, Fleet Indian faces by far her sternest test to date when she meets four Grade 1 winners, including Take D' Tour and Teammate, horses who appear to have enough speed to outfoot her early. The field is also expected to include Grade 1 winners Balletto, Round Pond, and Sweet Symphony.

"This is going to be an interesting race for her because this will be the first time where she's not the controlling speed,'' Pletcher said. "`But I think she's the kind of filly that she's really good at clicking off 12 [-second furlongs] over and over again, so we're not going to get too caught up in who is where as much as just letting her run her race. If she's second, third or fourth we'll just let her do her thing."

Like Spun Sugar, Take D' Tour, who won the Shuvee and Odgen Phipps handicaps, would also have to be supplemented to the Distaff at a cost of $180,000.

In other Distaff news, trainer Eddie Kenneally said the multiple Grade 1-winning

3-year-old filly Bushfire would simply train up to the Distaff. Since winning the Acorn and Mother Goose at Belmont in the summer, Bushfire has raced only once, that being a fifth-place finish behind Pine Island in the Gazelle on Sept. 9.

"We just thought it would be better to have her fresh for the Breeders' Cup," Kenneally said.

On Wednesday, Bushfire worked four furlongs in 50.40 seconds over Keeneland's Polytrack.

Pletcher said Pool Land, winner of the Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap on Sept. 10, would also train up to the Distaff.

Healthy Addiction, winner of the last Sunday's Lady's Secret at Santa Anita, will head the West Coast contingent for the Distaff. Hollywood Story, who finished third to Healthy Addiction, is still under consideration for the Distaff, according to trainer John Shirreffs.