06/17/2004 11:00PM

Mount Vernon draws crowd


ELMONT, N.Y. - With limited stakes opportunities for New York-bred turf fillies and mares, it's no surprise that Sunday's Mount Vernon Handicap drew enough entries to prompt the Belmont Park racing office to split the race in two divisions.

Twenty-one of the 41 nominated fillies and mares were entered. Each division, worth $75,000, has 10 horses entered to run on turf. The second division, run as the eighth race, has one horse entered for main-track only purposes. The Mount Vernon is scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf.

Both races came up tough. On the Bus, Brandala, and Dynamic Lisa head the eighth race, and stakes winners Board Elligible, Beautiful America, Perfect Energy, and Ma Femme square off in the sixth.

, a daughter of Ghazi, makes her stakes debut in the Mount Vernon. She is 2 for 2 at Belmont including a 6 1/2-length victory in a statebred second-level allowance race over this course on May 20. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95 for the effort.

"I thought it made her eligible to step up,'' assistant trainer Liz Gray said when asked her impressions of the last race. "To me, it seems like the further she goes, the stronger she gets.''

Jerry Bailey rides On the Bus for trainer Dale Romans from post 8.

Though she has won only two open-company allowance races in the last 18 months, is the 120-pound highweight in the Mount Vernon. She finished fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths last out in an open-company allowance race. Potra Fabulous, the second-place finisher from that race, came back to win here on Thursday. Brandala drops back into statebred competition for the first time since finishing second in last year's Ticonderoga Handicap.

Dynamic Lisa is 0 for 5 since winning last August's Yaddo Handicap at Saratoga.

Two races earlier, Board Elligible and Beautiful America will attempt to transfer their dirt form to the turf. The last time Board Elligible faced New York-breds on turf, she ran second to Ma Femme in the Perfect Arc division of the New York Stallion Stakes. Two starts back, she finished last in open company in a slowly run race on turf before winning the White Carnation Stakes on dirt on Belmont Day.

"I kind of feel she likes it,'' trainer James Ferraro said of the turf.

Beautiful America finished second to graded stakes winner Ocean Drive last summer in her turf debut.

There is plenty of pace in this division with Ma Femme, Our Tune, and Perfect Energy in the field.