01/14/2010 12:00AM

Northern Belle runs well anywhere


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A couple of red-hot trainers named Steve will attack the $50,000 American Beauty at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. Steve Asmussen, who has won five of the last nine runnings of the race, will send out Auspicious and Valid Code, while Steve Margolis, who has been on fire at Fair Grounds, has shipped up Northern Belle.

The American Beauty, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, ushers in the first Saturday card of the meet. The field of seven also includes the comebacking One Smokin' Lady, winner of the $100,000 Inaugural at Presque Isle in May.

Margolis, who is winning at a 32 percent clip at Fair Grounds, said the American Beauty looked like a good fit for Northern Belle. She is seeking her first stakes win after placing in three stakes at three different tracks during her 12-race career. Her most recent effort was a third-place finish in the $60,000 Esplanade at Fair Grounds on Dec. 19.

"For a lightly raced filly, she has run good at a lot of different tracks," Margolis said. "She's easy to ship. She's a professional."

Northern Belle made her stakes debut in June in the $200,000 Jostle at Philadelphia Park and ran a strong second. Her next stakes appearance came at Saratoga, where she finished third in the restricted Geyser Spring in August. In the Esplanade, she found herself farther off the pace than usual and finished five lengths behind winner She's Our Annie.

"We did get squeezed at the start, but we were not beating her," Margolis said.

Northern Belle won a $62,500 optional claiming race at Fair Grounds one start prior to the Esplanade. She will break from post 2 in the American Beauty.

"She has tactical speed," said Margolis, who trains Northern Belle for her breeder, Martin Cherry.

Terry Thompson, the defending riding champ at Oaklawn, has the mount.

Auspicious is another victim of She's Our Annie, who is currently sidelined. The two met last year at Oaklawn, where She's Our Annie won the $50,000 Prima Donna and Auspicious was third. Corey Nakatani has the mount on Auspicious.

Valid Code has won 4 of 5 starts, her latest the $50,000 Yellow Rose for statebreds at Sam Houston. She is to be ridden by Orlando Mojica.