07/13/2003 11:00PM

Forest Heiress vs. Zonk


ELMONT, N.Y. - The countdown to Saratoga begins in earnest at Belmont Park Wednesday when the first of the final five cards at the spring-summer meet will be run.

The feature is the $65,000-added My Juliet Stakes, a six-furlong dirt race for fillies and mares that drew a strong field of eight.

The My Juliet features Forest Heiress, a winner of her last two starts, and Zonk, a graded stakes winner who hasn't run since finishing fourth in the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park in February.

Forest Heiress, trained by Bill Mott and to be ridden by Mike Luzzi, won her last two starts by a combined margin of 14 1/4 lengths. In her last race, at Pimlico May 16, Forest Heiress won the off-the-turf The Very One Stakes in the slop. Forest Heiress, who drew post 8, is one of several runners with early speed.

The John Servis-trained Zonk leads the field in career earnings with $559,476. Her best races have been at longer routes.

A horse for the course is Redhead Riot, who is trained by Laurie LaFavers. She finished first in the Xtra Heat Stakes here June 27, but was disqualified for interference and placed second. Redhead Riot will be re-equipped with blinkers after LaFavers removed them two starts back.

The lightly raced Zawzooth will represent trainer Todd Pletcher, who has a comfortable lead in the trainer standings with 34 winners after Sunday's card. Pletcher, who won last year's meet title with 30 winners, is in position to set a meet record. According to research done by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, the record for wins at this meet is 36, set in 1982 by Frank "Pancho" Martin.

Zawzooth, who will be ridden by Edgar Prado, finished fifth in a fourth-level allowance race June 13 after getting off to a bad start and chasing the early pace. Pletcher believes Zawzooth, 2 for 3 at Belmont, is capable of better.

"She stumbled at the break and that has been her only poor race," Pletcher said. "She has been very consistent."

Laurel shipper Amazing Lady could be tough in her second start off of a layoff. She finished second at a mile on the turf in her last start and figures to improve with the surface switch.

Silk Concorde is coming off a front-running win in the slop last month. Vesta, who won the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico last year, is 0 for 3 in 2003. Belle Artiste, making her first start for trainer George Weaver, completes the field.