12/14/2006 1:00AM

Lack of interest shelves long-standing Ladies


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Once a revered event on the New York stakes calendar, the Ladies Handicap has lost its luster to the point where last year it was no longer a graded event. This year, the oldest stakes race restricted to fillies and mares in this country is simply no longer.

The Ladies, a 1 1/4-mile race reduced to a listed event with a paltry purse of $65,000, did not draw enough entries to be carded on Saturday. It has been replaced by the $65,000 Gold Beauty, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares run at a mile and 70 yards.

"It was a great race for many, many years; I remember when it was a Grade 1,'' Andrew Byrnes, the New York Racing Association stakes coordinator said of the Ladies. "At this time of year, guys have already shipped out or nobody wants to run a mile and a quarter. It's a shame.''

It's not a shame for horsemen such as Gary Contessa.

He sends out Kimchi, a 3-year-old daughter of Langfuhr, who has not been out since finishing fourth in a 10-furlong turf stakes over yielding ground at Woodbine. Prior to that, Kimchi won the Bison City Stakes and the Woodbine Oaks for trainer Mark Casse.

Contessa said he got Kimchi in September and the filly had a splint issue that had to be addressed.

"I loved the thought of the Ladies but I didn't get to train her enough to run her a mile and a quarter,'' Contessa said. "I think she's trained well enough for this race.''

Kimchi has a stalking running style, which should suit her well in a field that has some pace in it. Samsincharge stretches out coming off a front-running score going six furlongs over the inner track.

Last year, Samsincharge won two route races over the inner track, including a front-running score against open company in a third-level allowance.

"I think she's best at seven-eighths or a mile and she loves Aqueduct,'' said Deb Cedano, wife of and assistant to trainer Heriberto Cedano. "I don't know how much speed is going to be in that race, but they're going to have to catch her.''

Samsincharge could face pace pressure from Gipsy Limits and Heavenly Psalm.

Pleasant Chimes had a three-race win streak snapped when she finished fifth in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap. She was closer to the pace than she likes to be and may benefit from a livelier pace on Saturday.

Fuego Grande, Dina, and Victory Pool complete the field.