07/08/2003 11:00PM

Intriguing Australian invader

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - Australian Group 1 winner Sixty Seconds will make her U.S. debut for strong turf connections in Friday's feature race at Belmont Park, a one-mile grass race for older fillies and mares.

The allowance race attracted nine well-matched entrants, but most eyes will be on Sixty Seconds, a 5-year-old mare who beat males in listed stakes in her native New Zealand before notching graded stakes wins against fillies and mares in Australia last year, including the Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Stakes at Rosehill.

Sixty Seconds, scratched from last Friday's New York Handicap, will start for trainer Christophe Clement, who excels with both turf horses and overseas runners. Jerry Bailey is named to ride Sixty Seconds, who has displayed strong late runs in almost all of her races.

Her fitness, however, may be a factor. Sixty Seconds has not started in nine months, going back to the Grade 2 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington in Australia on Oct. 5. The race was easily the worst performance of her career. She finished 14th, beaten 14 1U4 lengths.

The race has tough front-runners who will likely set a legitimate pace, good stalking horses, and a set of strong closers.

Multiple Wins, Ms. Rapunzel, and Cozzy Corner are the likely front-runners, but none is a proven winner at this level. Ms. Rapunzel's last three races have been uncharacteristically poor, while Multiple Wins has yet to prove that she can win at this level outside of New York-bred races.

Cozzy Corner has not won a race for 21 months - her last win was the 2001 Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland - but she has been running steadily in stakes races on the grass since then, and has the class to compete in this race.

Super Blue, a Chilean horse who was imported to the U.S. last fall, will probably lay off the leaders and is a candidate at a square price. Trained by Angel Penna, Super Blue did well in her last race to be beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by stakes winner Riskaverse.

Vespers and Brandala will likely be running with Sixty Seconds in the later stages of the race. Both have the Beyer Speed Figures to compete in the race.