10/13/2004 11:00PM

Notable tips and trips at Belmont's fall meet


ELMONT, N.Y. - It's the calm before the Breeders' Cup storm and all the major New York prep stakes are in the books, so this is an opportune time to review what has transpired thus far at Belmont Park's fall meet - not only the Breeders' Cup implications, but day-to-day info to file away for everyday use.

Sept. 10 - Opening day featured a gold rail that propelled into the winner's circle upsetters such as Joshua's Jet ($18.20), Private City ($31), and Bubba Sparks ($14). Against-the-bias horses who have come back to win include Ringold (twice), and two out of Private City's come-again score - Mighty David and Dubai Sheikh. Other wide runners who bear watching include Mumbles, Papua, Kyle's King, and Perpetual Peace.

Sept. 11 and 12 - If you didn't like how the track played opening day, you didn't have to wait long for a correction, as Big Sandy (aka the Belmont main track) suddenly produced the kind of deep rail that is so familiar to followers of this circuit. Stellar Jayne came again on the fence to take the Gazelle, but the effort knocked her out a bit: In her next start she came up a flat third in the Indiana BC Oaks at even money.

Edgar Prado, far and away the top big-money rider in New York this season, nearly pulled off a shocker aboard 11-1 outsider Saint Liam in the Woodward, floating 2-5 shot Ghostzapper wide on the turn and out past the middle of the track through the stretch. The two slugged it out shoulder to shoulder through blazing fractions, which couldn't have been the kind of experience for Ghostzapper that Bobby Frankel had been looking for.

Keep in mind that Ghostzapper, as classy as he was in gutting out the Woodward win, is a half-brother to the pure sprinter City Zip. If he can somehow recover from that dogfight and stretch out to 10 furlongs and win the Breeders' Cup Classic off a seven-week layoff, he is going to ruin all my multi-race exotics at Lone Star.

Sept. 15 - Deep closers from last or next-to-last won four of the five dirt races, which is very unusual on a track generally kinder to early speed than widely perceived. The lone exception was Rize, a prolific winner who stalked from second in a paceless route. Tiring pacesetters and pressers who may rate the benefit of the doubt include Grancentral Pkwy, Left Hook, Fighting Roy Kelly, Fleet Indian, Swinging, Mike's Classic, and Bishop Court Hill.

Sept. 17 - Another track highly favorable to closers, particularly from outside posts. The lone winner from an inside post was Unbridled Vision, off an 11-month layoff for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who was unconsciously hot at the time. Unbridled Vision was up close from the rail early, dropped back to last into the turn, and then circled the field to get up in time. Dead-rail trip horses include High Ratings, Emptor, Brassy Kitten, Chanceux Vous, Flagstaff, Sea Heather, and Louie's Ransom.

Oct. 2 - After some tough-luck losses, Funny Cide won the Jockey Club Gold Cup with a determined effort, dropping back from between rivals leaving the far turn and coming again to outgame 20-1 shot Newfoundland. He appears a much more viable contender for the Classic than he was a year ago.

Six days after Artie Schiller won the 1 1/8-mile Jamaica Handicap in course-record time, Kitten's Joy - the only horse to beat Artie Schiller this year - unleashed an awesome stretch kick to blow by Magistretti in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.

A capable shipper, Kitten's Joy seems like a match for the Europeans in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Artie Schiller would also be a contender if his connections opt to turn him back in the Mile. It's not often that two of the best turf horses in the country are 3-year-olds.

Oct. 9 - The main track played several ticks slower than par to the pace call. It didn't matter in the Beldame when Sightseek set easy fractions and toyed with Test and Alabama winner Society Selection, but the fractions of the 1 1/16-mile Frizette and Champagne are worth comparing:

Frizette: 23.13, 46.28, 1:10.77, 1:36.59, 1:43.52

Champagne: 23.71, 47.20, 1:11.49, 1:36.09, 1:42.30

Sis City, who was claimed out of a maiden claiming win at Saratoga, showed the way in the Frizette from the opening bell to deep stretch and held on to finish a close third despite drifting out and racing erratically - understandable in view of her early energy expenditure. The winner was Balletto, who is still a bit rough around the edges but continues to develop with each passing race as if destined to become a genuine stayer. Ready's Girl had a tough trip racing close to the fast pace four wide, and finished resolutely in a promising stakes debut.

The Champagne unfolded differently - slow early and fast late - and Proud Accolade raced in easy striking range from the outside before outfinishing Sanford and Hopeful winner Afleet Alex by a half-length. Proud Accolade had shown enough in two blowout wins at Saratoga to be second choice, and considering the strong closing fractions, this effort bodes well for continued success in route races. Sired by 1988 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Yes It's True, Proud Accolade has every right to improve at Lone Star in his second start going long.