05/04/2006 12:00AM

Hello Liberty faces her toughest test


ELMONT, N.Y. - Woody Stephens used to say the buildings get mighty tall when you cross the Hudson River, but evidently no one told Larry Jones. He shipped to Belmont Park for a reason and not the season when he saddled Island Sand to win the 2004 running of the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, and is back with another 3-year-old filly, Hello Liberty, in Saturday's Nassau County Breeders' Cup Stakes at seven furlongs.

has yet to run in a graded stakes, and faces her sternest test to date in the Grade 2 Nassau County, but has won or placed in 5 of 6 starts at four different tracks, her lone non-exacta finish coming against males as a second-time starter last July.

"Any time you come to Belmont you expect to be hooking good stuff," said Jones. "We've been to the mountain, and we know what it looks like when we get there. It's not as scary as we thought it would be."

Hello Liberty comes off the two fastest races of her career, a runner-up finish behind stablemate Wildcat Bettie B - subsequently third in the Grade 2 Beaumont at Keeneland - followed by a handy score in the sloppy Peach Blossom at Delaware Park two weeks ago.

"She was able to stalk a couple of speedsters and pick up the pieces," said Jones. "I know my filly's doing well."

Hello Liberty will need to bring her best stuff into the Nassau County. The field includes Swap Fliparoo, who ran the best race of her life to win an overnight stakes at Aqueduct last out; How True It Is, who won her first two starts at Gulfstream Park by open lengths; and the well-connected fillies Diamond Spirit and Crystal Current, who first crossed swords in a maiden race at Aqueduct as 2-year-olds last November.

, a versatile stretch runner trained by Allen Jerkens, has been second in Grade 3 stakes sprinting on dirt, and also routing on turf.

The Bill Mott-trained , a homebred from George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, was third most recently in the Florida Oaks behind Bushfire, who came back to win the Grade 1 Ashland before a scheduled start in Friday's Kentucky Oaks.