10/01/2003 11:00PM

Hard to get past Sightseek in Beldame


ELMONT, N.Y. - Sightseek has been unbeatable since coming to the East in the spring, and there is no reason to believe she won't continue her winning ways in Saturday's $750,000 Beldame at Belmont Park.

The Grade 1 Beldame, New York's final prep for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, shares the card with three other Breeders' Cup preps: the Grade 1 Champagne, Grade 1 Frizette, and Grade 2 Kelso Breeders' Cup.

Three Beldame winners - Lady's Secret (1986), Personal Ensign (1988), and Beautiful Pleasure (1999) - have gone on to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The Beldame, tied to a national pick-six bet offered by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, will be shown live as part of a 90-minute NBC telecast that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Post time is 5:20 p.m. Eight fillies and mares, including six Grade 1 winners, were entered in the 1 1/8-mile Beldame. Older runners carry 123 pounds, and the 3-year-olds - Bird Town, Buy the Sport, and Island Fashion - tote 120. Island Fashion was also entered in Saturday's $250,000 Cotillion at Philadelphia Park.

Sightseek, the deserving favorite, enters the Beldame with wins in three Grade 1 races - the Humana Distaff, Ogden Phipps, and Go for Wand. Her combined margin of victory in those races was 21 lengths. Sightseek's win in the Ogden Phipps was in the slop, and rain is in Saturday's forecast.

In the Beldame, Sightseek's trainer, Bobby Frankel, will try to break D. Wayne Lukas's single-season record of 22 Grade 1 wins, set in 1987. On Sunday at Santa Anita, Frankel tied the record in the Yellow Ribbon with Tates Creek.

"Obviously, [the record] means a lot," Frankel said Thursday at his Belmont Park barn. "Sightseek is one of my favorites, so it would be nice to do it with her."

Sightseek is the undisputed queen of the older filly and mare division in the East, and Frankel said that the loss suffered by Azeri, the divisional leader, in Sunday's Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup improved Sightseek's chances of earning a championship.

"It kept the door open," Frankel said. "Now if I win the Distaff, there is no doubt [Sightseek] gets it."

Jerry Bailey, who won the Beldame last year aboard Imperial Gesture, rides Sightseek from post 2. Sightseek, like most of her rivals here, possesses tactical speed.

Three-year-olds have won the Beldame eight times since 1990, and the 3-year-olds in this year's renewal are all Grade 1 winners: Buy the Sport won the Gazelle; Bird Town captured the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn; and Island Fashion took the Alabama. A win from any of them would carry a lot of weight in the Eclipse Award voting for their division.

Bobby Barbara began training Buy the Sport after she won the Gazelle. She previously raced in Europe.

"The first race off the plane is supposed to be the best, but if she can improve off her last race, anything is possible," Barbara said. "We're not afraid of anybody; were running to win."

Corey Nakatani rides Buy the Sport from the rail.

Bird Town, whose half-brother, Birdstone, is entered in the Champagne, finished fifth in the Alabama at Saratoga after a runner-up finish in the Test. Nick Zito, Bird Town's trainer, is still puzzled by the Alabama performance.

"I didn't think she would run bad after the Test, but maybe it was a tough race," Zito said. "She's been well rested and looks strong."

Aaron Gryder picks up the mount on Bird Town because Edgar Prado, aboard for her last four starts, rides at Keeneland on Saturday.

Island Fashion won the Alabama by six lengths in her first start for trainer Barclay Tagg. In her last race, Island Fashion finished fourth in the Gazelle after making a bid for the lead around the turn. Tagg said John Velazquez, who is named to ride in the Beldame, might have moved too early.

As for deciding between the Beldame and the Cotillion, Tagg said he would defer to the filly's owner, Jeff Nielson. "It's completely up to the owner," Tagg said. "I'm hopeful I will run here."

Summer Colony, who finished third in last year's Beldame as the favorite, has tailed off since. In her last start, Summer Colony finished fourth in the Personal Ensign, which was won by one of her Beldame rivals, Passing Shot.

Mark Hennig, Summer Colony's trainer, said the mare has trained very well since returning from Saratoga.

Smok'n Frolic, who rarely throws in a clunker, exits a winning effort in the Turfway Park Breeders' Cup on Sept. 13.

Misty Sixes, a longshot, completes the field.