06/22/2001 12:00AM

Jazz Club's hiatus expands puzzle


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - People accustomed to deciphering puzzles need not bother searching for one in the local newspaper this weekend. Sunday's ninth race at Churchill Downs, a $55,900 allowance for horses seeking to regain their top form, is puzzling enough.

The seven-furlong dash features only seven entrants, but the race is not easy to handicap. Many of the competitors have not won in some time, including the race's two graded winners - Jazz Club and Nite Dreamer.

Jazz Club hasn't won since 1999, when he was a top-class handicap runner. That year he won two Grade 3 stakes, highlighted by the Ben Ali at Keeneland. He also finished second to Pleasant Breeze in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup late that season.

Since the fall of 1999 Jazz Club has raced just once, finishing a distant third in a Saratoga allowance last August. He now returns following a 10-month layoff.

Jazz Club, a 6-year-old son of Dixieland Band, shows five moderate published works this season, leaving handicappers little information to judge his fitness. Pat Day rides for trainer Neil Howard.

The question with the 6-year-old Nite Dreamer is not fitness but form. His most recent start, a 50-length defeat in the April 28 Excelsior Handicap, was a disaster - a failure trainer Niall O'Callaghan attributes to a bruised foot.

Before that race he had been second to Include in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, an effort that earned him a 110 Beyer Speed Figure.

Back on his home surface, Churchill Downs, Nite Dreamer may rebound - provided he handles the move from a route to a sprint. He has not sprinted since he was a 2-year-old, when won a maiden race at six furlongs and placed in two seven-furlong events.

Larry Melancon has the mount on Nite Dreamer, a winner of 5 of 34 races and more than $1.1 million.

Promising fillies on tap

The ninth race isn't the only interesting race on the card. Two other allowance races showcase promising 3-year-old fillies.

Spanish Glitter, fresh off an easy victory June 1, races against older fillies in a three-other-than allowance, carded as the fourth race. Four races later Beloved By All, the third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds, seeks to regain her winning ways in the eighth race after a runner-up finish to Spanish Glitter.

I Believe in You retired

I Believe In You, winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet last reason, has been retired, trainer Paul McGee said Friday.

Out since December following surgery to remove a bone chip in her right ankle, I Believe In You resumed training this spring but never fully recovered. She displayed filling in the ankle after breezing an easy three-eighths earlier this month.

"It kept bothering her," McGee said of the injury, which was detected after she won the Starlet. "I didn't like how it was doing."

I Believe In You, owned by Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel,will not be bred until next year, Samantha Siegel said.

* Alannan, winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap, worked five furlongs Friday at Churchill Downs in 1:01 over a wet-fast track officially labeled as sloppy. He is a possibility for the June 30 Aristides Handicap, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint that is expected to attract Bet on Sunshine.