Updated on 09/15/2011 1:53PM

New look Queenie Belle vs. Feverish


DEL MAR, Calif. - When they clashed 10 months ago, Feverish lost to Queenie Belle by a nose. When they meet Friday at Del Mar, Feverish may not even recognize her nemesis.

Six fillies and mares entered the $75,000 Piedra Foundation Handicap, a mile race in which Feverish returns as the 120-pound highweight following a layoff of seven weeks. However, Feverish faces a legitimate challenge from new and improved Queenie Belle, back from a layoff of seven months.

"She looks like a different filly," Queenie Belle's trainer Ben Cecil said. "She's gained a lot of weight, she's matured, she's blossomed."

While racing nearly two years without a break - from May 1999 through January 2001 - Queenie Belle ran "light." Not that it mattered: She won five races and $432,620 from 16 starts, including a nose victory over Feverish last fall in the California Cup Matron. Queenie Belle has grown up in the seven months since a nuclear scan revealed signs of trouble.

"She had three spots on one leg, and one spot on another; we felt it was a good time to stop," Cecil said. Otherwise, "it could have turned into a fracture." Queenie Belle, a Bertrando filly owned by Gary Seidler, resumed training this spring and enters her comeback in prime shape.

"I don't think fitness is an issue, I've got plenty of works in her," Cecil said. "She's really happy out on the racetrack." To win her comeback - and there is every reason to believe she can - Queenie Belle must knock off a fit-and-ready veteran.

Feverish came out of a fifth-place finish June 30 with bruised feet that needed time to heal. Though she is a 6-year-old, trainer Dan Hendricks said she shows no signs of slowing down and is being considered for a campaign next year as a 7-year-old. "She's never had anything but her feet stinging her, which is rare for a hard-knocking horse who has done so much."

Owned and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod, Feverish has won 12 races and $874,033 from 38 starts. Although Hendricks believes the mile distance is less conducive to Feverish than her preferred distance of 1 1/16 miles, he said she has trained well for her first start on the Del Mar main track since 1998. "She worked [1:11.40], so she seems to like it," Hendricks said.

The conditions of the Piedra Foundation, nonwinners of $45,000 since Feb. 1, favor Feverish, whose last win was Jan. 18. In additon to Queenie Bellie, the field includes Favorite Funtime, Cee Dreams, Tutelada, and Red Hot and Blue.

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