01/27/2006 1:00AM

Intercontinental follows her family's tradition


Eclipse Award recognition runs in the family for Intercontinental, the nation's outstanding turf female in 2005.

Banks Hill, Intercontinental's older sister, won the 2001 title, while Heat Haze, Intercontinental's half-sister, was an Eclipse Award finalist in 2003. They are all out of Hasili, one of the world's finest broodmares and the pride of her owner and breeder, Juddmonte Farms.

By Danehill, Intercontinental was an Eclipse Award finalist in 2004 but did not win the title.

In 2005, she was among the nation's top turf females throughout the season.

was the overwhelming choice of Eclipse voters after winning 5 of 7 starts and $1,271,200. She was never worse than third, making all of her starts in graded stakes in California, Kentucky, and New York. She won at least one race on each circuit.

The highlight was her final start, a win in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park in October.

Intercontinental was thought of primarily as a turf miler before the Filly and Mare Turf. Ending a remarkably consistent season, and career, Intercontinental showed her best performance in the Filly and Mare Turf, leading throughout the 1 1/4 miles to beat Ouija Board, the defending champion and 2004 Eclipse Award winner, by 1 1/4 lengths.

The Filly and Mare Turf was the fifth stakes win of 2005 for Intercontinental, her first in a Grade 1. Her other stakes wins came in the Grade 3 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland in April, the Grade 3 Royal Heroine Stakes at Hollywood Park in July, the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar in September, and the Grade 2 Galaxy Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 9. Those races ranged in distance from a mile to 1 1/16 miles.

A stakes winner in France in 2003, Intercontinental joined trainer Bobby Frankel's barn during the winter of 2003-04. She won 9 of 13 starts in his care, with eight wins coming in stakes.

Sometimes, Frankel and his staff had a difficult time with Intercontinental. She proved to be tough for jockeys to rate in the early stages of some races but overcame that eagerness to win the Jenny Wiley, Royal Heroine, and Palomar. Rank behavior early in the race may have cost her a victory in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in July, when she failed to settle after racing near the front early and finished third as the favorite.

"She never makes it easy," Frankel said after the Palomar. "If she would have learned how to relax, she could have been a super superstar."

All of that was behind her in the Filly and Mare Turf. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Intercontinental settled well and responded quickly when asked for a run at the top of the stretch. By then, the other 13 fillies and mares in the field were shooting for second.