10/05/2004 11:00PM

Miss Matched using Alcibiades as stepping-stone to big one


Miss Matched was no match for Sense of Style when the two fillies met in the Grade 2 Spinaway at Saratoga on Aug. 20. John Ward, the trainer of Miss Matched, doesn't know if things will be different when the two meet again in Friday's $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland. But to Ward, winning is not necessarily the main objective.

For Ward, the Alcibiades is a stepping-stone to get Miss Matched to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

"This is a setup for the Breeders' Cup," Ward said. "If I run a really nice race, and I'm happy with the way the horse runs, and she does the things I want her to, she doesn't have to beat that monster. But, if we face off again in Dallas, then I think I've got her. If I like what I see on Friday, then I think I've got her set to run just a very, very dominant race. . . . I'm looking for great improvement, but I'm not too sure I'm looking for the monster race."

The Alcibiades, which drew a field of 11, and Saturday's Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park, which is expected to draw seven, are the last major preps for the Juvenile Fillies.

Coming off an impressive victory in last weekend's Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita, the California-based Sweet Catomine figures to be no worse than second choice in the Juvenile Fillies.

Ward and his owner, John Oxley, purchased Miss Matched from trainer Bill Perry following her 12 1/2-length maiden win at Monmouth in July. In the Spinaway, Miss Matched bobbled at the break, veered inward, and became part of a hot pace. She did well to hold second while Sense of Style took advantage of the duel to win by 6 3/4 lengths.

Ward said Miss Matched has natural early speed and a long, flowing stride. His goal since the Spinaway has been to get her to relax. Ward believes by running her around two turns she will be able to do that.

"For my animal, the two turns and short stretch is going to set her up perfectly to go to Lone Star," Ward said.

Sense of Style is 3 for and 3 and is already a Grade 1 winner. Her trainer, Patrick Biancone, is running her in the Alcibiades to get her two-turn experience.

The Alcibiades drew a fairly deep field. Punch Appeal was fifth behind Sense of Style in the Spinaway and came back to win the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies. Runway Model, second in the Arlington Washington Lassie at one mile, tries two turns for the first time in the Alcibiades. In the Gold was an impressive maiden winner for Nick Zito at Belmont on Sept. 18.

With Sense of Style in Kentucky, Saturday's Frizette at Belmont is wide open. Balletto was making a strong run at Sense of Style in the stretch of the Matron before falling short by one length.

Play With Fire, third in the Matron, and Ready's Gal, 2 for 2 for trainer Todd Pletcher, are other notables pointing to the Frizette.

Juvenile Fillies Contenders
2-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles. Purse: $1 million.

1Sweet CatomineJ. Canani2-1
Her Oak Leaf was impressive, and she hasn't shown her best yet
2Sense of StyleP. Biancone5-2
She's good, but I wonder if she'll improve as much as the top one
3BallettoT. Albertrani10-1
Improved noticably with added distance when second in the Matron
4CulinaryM. Stidham12-1
Moved forward with her solid win in the Arlington-Washington Lassie
5Play With FireM. Hennig15-1
Made a run at Sense of Style before finishing third in the Matron
6Ready's GalT. Pletcher15-1
Running style says she'll handle distance; gets a big test in the Frizette
7Runway ModelB. Flint20-1
Rallied to be a respectable second in Culinary's nice Lassie victory
8Dance Away CapoteH. G. Motion20-1
Won her last by 12; Beyers say she'll have to improve about 12 more
9Miss MatchedJ. Ward Jr.30-1
Has seven lengths to make up on Sense of Style off the Spinaway
10Punch AppealS. Asmussen30-1
Looked like the mile of the Ky. Cup was as much as she can handle

- The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.