09/26/2004 11:00PM

Mighty cast greets new meet

Among notables set to run during Oak Tree's meet are: Hollywood Gold Cup champ Total Impact (above), outstanding 2-year-old Roman Ruler, Del Mar Oaks winner Amorama, and Del Mar Debutante victor Sweet Catomine.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The start of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Wednesday gives Belleski an excellent opportunity to extend a winning streak on a turf course she has shown she adores.

Unbeaten in three starts on Santa Anita's signature hillside turf course, Belleski will be trying to defend her title in the $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs.

The Grade 3 Maddy is the highlight of a nine-race program that launches the five-week Oak Tree meeting, which runs through Oct. 31.

The major highlights of the meeting are in the first half of October. The first two weekends - this Saturday and Sunday and Oct. 9 and 10 - feature eight stakes designed as preps for the Breeders' Cup program at Lone Star Park near Dallas on Oct. 30. This weekend, there are three graded stakes on both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday's $500,000 Goodwood Handicap features California newcomer Supah Blitz and Hollywood Gold Cup winner Total Impact. The program also includes the $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, which could be a springboard to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf for Amorama, Katdogawn, Light Jig, and Stage Shy. The third major stakes of the day is the $200,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

Sunday's program is highlighted by the $250,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares, which will include Elloluv, runner-up in the 2003 BC Distaff. Top California 2-year-old Roman Ruler will start as a heavy favorite in the $200,000 Norfolk Stakes. The $250,000 Clement Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship could produce starters for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

On Oct. 16, the California Cup is likely to draw the highest attendance of the meeting. The 10-race program includes races worth $1.325 million for California-breds.

The meeting marks the debut of a daily $1 pick five on the final five races. Another new feature is a first post of 2:30 p.m. on Fridays.

The Maddy is likely to be Belleski's only start of the Oak Tree meeting, trainer John Sadler said.

The race is her first start on the hillside course since she won the 2003 Maddy by two lengths.

Last November, Belleski finished 14th in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park, and missed the Santa Anita winter meeting to have a bone chip removed from an ankle.

"The race is a perfect distance for her," Sadler said. "Five furlongs is too short. She's kind of a 'tweener' - a mile is just a little too far."

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Belleski has won 6 of 13 starts and $284,586.

Belleski breaks from post 2 in the Maddy, which has drawn a field of 10 that includes Intercontinental, a three-time stakes winner, and a three-horse entry of Acago, Polygreen, and Stormica owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer.

Belleski had made two starts this year, both at Del Mar. She was an unlucky fourth in the Daisycutter Handicap over five furlongs on July 30, her first start of the year. Sent off at even-money, Belleski was steadied twice yet closed to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Icantgoforthat.

On Aug. 26, Belleski rebounded to win an optional claimer over a mile on turf, rallying from fourth to win by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths. The outcome of that race was flattered when runner-up Market Garden won the Pio Pico Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 17.

Belleski carries 118 pounds in the Maddy, two fewer than starting highweight Intercontinental. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Intercontinental has won 3 of 4 starts since arriving from France last winter. She won the Grade 3 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park in the spring before finishing fifth as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Diana Handicap over yielding turf at Saratoga on July 31.

Those races were at a mile or farther, but Intercontinental was successful in sprints in France, finishing third behind males in the Group 1 Grand Criterium in 2002 and winning a minor stakes over about seven furlongs last year.

The fillies and mares in the Wertheimer entry are accomplished in turf sprints. Richard Mandella trains Acago and Polygreen, while his son Gary trains Stormica.

Polygreen is the strongest member of the entry, having finished second in the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course last December. The Maddy is her first start since a fourth-place finish in the Las Cienegas Handicap on the hillside last April.

Acago is making her first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes last December. The layoff was caused by a splint bone injury. A stakes winner over 1 1/8 miles in France last year, Acago was stakes placed in a sprint in 2002.

Stormica was stakes placed in sprints in France last year and is making her grass debut in the U.S. following five dirt starts earlier this year.

At a glance: Santa Anita

RACING SCHEDULE: Wednesday through Oct. 31. Dark Mondays and Tuesdays, except Oct. 11.

POST TIMES: 1 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays. 2:30 p.m., Fridays. 12:30 p.m. weekends and Oct. 11. noon on Oct. 16, California Cup Day. 9:40 a.m. Oct. 30.


Oct. 9Oak Tree BC Mile2$250,000
Oct. 10Ancient Title BC H'cap1250,000
Oct. 16California Cup Day(10 stakes) 
Oct. 17Oak Tree Derby2150,000
Oct. 31Las Palmas H'cap2150,000

ADMISSIONS: General $5, Clubhouse $8.50, Turf Club and John Henry Room $15. General parking $4, preferred $6, valet $10.

LOCATION: 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia. South of 210 (Foothill Freeway), east of Baldwin Ave.

PHONE: (626) 574-7223.

INTERNET: http://www.oaktreeracing.com