07/31/2004 12:00AM

Frankel says Venturi is ready to go


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Bobby Frankel will seek his third victory in the last five runnings of Saratoga's Lake George Handicap on Monday when he sends out against nine others in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Frankel purchased Venturi for Edmund Gann after she won the Group 3 Park Stakes last Sept. 21 in Ireland. Before that, she defeated males in a maiden race. While training in Southern California, Venturi developed a chip in an ankle that required surgery. She has been in training for several months, and Frankel believes she is ready for this assignment.

"She's dead fit. She's been ready to run for a while," said Frankel, who won this race in 2000 with Millie's Quest and in 2002 with Nunatall. "I'd been gearing up for this race for a while."

Venturi will run on Lasix for the first time and gets the riding services of Edgar Prado.

The Lake George, a Grade 2, $100,000 race, drew an extremely competitive field, including stakes winners Lucifer's Stone, La Reina, Galloping Gal, Fortunate Damsel, and Art Fan.

won three consecutive races, including the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream and the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, before getting beaten by a neck by Mambo Slew in the Grade 3 Sands Point at Belmont. Shortly after that race, Lucifer's Stone suffered a cut that needed stitches after she was spooked and fell on pavement. The injury forced her to miss the American Oaks at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Linda Rice, who won this race in 1998 with Tenski, has been pleased with Lucifer's Stone's training but worries if she is fit enough to handle a soft turf course.

"I'd feel a little more confident on a firm turf course as far as fitness,'' Rice said. Soft ground, she said, "can be a little more laboring coming off a seven-week layoff."

Pat Day will ride Lucifer's Stone.

Delta Sensation went 3 for 4 on dirt, but she has stepped up her game since trainer Frank Alexander switched her to the grass. She has won 2 of 3 starts on turf and was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths in the Sands Point after being taken farther off the pace than Alexander wanted.

Galloping Gal was beaten as the 4-5 favorite in the Virginia Oaks, but she now cuts back to a distance at which she is 3 for 4. Fortunate Damsel was a sharp winner of the Fieldy Stakes after encountering trouble when fifth in the Sands Point.