10/13/2004 11:00PM

Generational battle


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Traditionally, 3-year-old fillies have performed well in the Grade 3, $150,000 Breeders' Cup Ballerina, which goes as the eighth race at Hastings on Saturday. In fact the previous two renewals have been won by 3-year-olds, Dancewithavixen last year and Grace for You in 2003.

Those results bode well for the Dave Forster-trained entry of Summer Symphony and Socorro County, who finished one-two in the Grade 3 Breeders' Cup Oaks on Sept. 25. A total of 11 fillies and mares have been entered in the Ballerina, and the leading contender from the older generation is Aunt Sophie. A 6-year-old mare, she comes into the 1 1/8-mile Ballerina off of two straight stakes wins at Emerald Downs and as the top money earner in the race with $297,155.

Summer Symphony beat Socorro County in the Oaks, but Socorro County has the better overall record and the half-length difference in the Oaks can be attributed to the trip each horse received. Socorro County took the circuitous route when making her usual late move, while Chad Hoverson, who was aboard Summer Symphony, somehow found a way through the wall of horses that had bunched up on the turn.

Forster sent both horses out for their final preps Thursday morning, with Summer Symphony earning a bullet for her three-furlong move in 35.60 seconds. Socorro County breezed in 38.60.

"They went perfectly," Forster said. "Chad worked Summer Symphony and I put a heavy exercise rider on Socorro County, so don't take too much stock in their times. Socorro County is pretty sharp right now and I didn't want her running off with a light rider aboard."

Robert Skelly will ride Socorro County and Hoverson will be aboard Summer Symphony.

Aunt Sophie was shipped to Forster's barn following her win in the Belle Roberts on Sept. 19, but she's officially trained by Charles Barth, who will be up to saddle her Saturday. A Washington-bred mare, Aunt Sophie won three stakes races at Emerald and was named the top older filly or mare at the meet. She'll be ridden by Roberto Gonzalez.

Socorro County, Summer Symphony, and Aunt Sophie all come from far back, and with See Me Through and Stormented entered, they should have a decent pace to run at. See Me Through set the pace before tiring to finish third in the Oaks. Stormented was up close to quick splits in the Delta Collen and looked like the winner when she opened a two-length lead in midstretch. But she tired late and was passed by 31-1 shot La Belle Fleur, who is also entered in the Ballerina.