08/21/2001 11:00PM

One fine day, two fine fillies


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Morning poured like a crisp Chablis, the sun high and bright in the heavens, horses dappled and shining as they pranced to the track with joy, while those who care for them reflected how lucky they are to be in Old Saratoga on a day of days.

In such a magnificent setting we went visiting, primarily to see two fillies, both of whom enjoyed notable success last weekend and both in an improving mode that can only result in additional success. The first is England's Legend, who led past every pole last Saturday to win the $700,000 Beverly D. on the turf course at Arlington Park. The Beverly D. is a world-class feature that almost always attracts a top international field. Yet England's Legend made light work of winning, arriving at the end of the 1 3/16 miles with a margin of 7 3/4 lengths.

A 4-year-old daughter of Lure, who won Breeders' Cup Miles back to back in 1992 and 1993, England's Legend showed promise in France last season under the direction of the brilliant Andre Fabre. She was sent to America last fall by her owner-breeder, Edouard de Rothschild of the banking family. Patricia Boutin, daughter of the late great trainer Fran?ois Boutin, serves as the manager of Rothschilds' racing and breeding operations and placed the filly in Christophe Clement's barn.

It was a happy choice. England's Legend, improving steadily, turned in a sharp performance to win the New York Handicap at Belmont Park last month and built on that triumph to smash the Beverly D. Like many of the Lures she has been excitable at times but Clement schooled her extensively, with excellent results. He still goes out of his way to give her the extra edge. Because he wanted her to have a few extra days to become familiar with her surroundings at Arlington Park, he vanned her to Chicago a week in advance of the Beverly D. The results speak for themselves.

"She'll probably make her next start in the $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Sept. 29," the trainer said. "After that we'll be pointing for the Breeders' Cup race for fillies and mares on the grass. That is run at a mile and a quarter, the distance that suits her best. This is a very good filly, and she is getting better."

The other filly on our calling list is Snow Dance, who, like England's Legend, raced in front to win Monday's $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on the Saratoga turf. Lightly regarded at almost 10-1 though she won her last two starts, she registered by 1 1/2 lengths after negotiating the nine furlongs in 1:47.42. Snow Dance, a Forest Wildcat filly who was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton August sale for $220,000, is the second stakes winner by that sire in the John Oxley stable trained by John and Donna Ward. The other one is Forest Secrets, who won the Acorn for Debby Oxley.

The two Forest Wildcat fillies are completely different in appearance. Snow Dance is a grey, and finely drawn. Forest Secrets is a bay and a more muscular individual. Snow Dance showed some quality in races on the dirt last year but it wasn't until she was switched to turf last month in Kentucky that she became a consistent winner. Her string of victories now stands at three, and judging by her performance in the Lake Placid, she is moving forward.

"She is smart and competitive," Donna Ward said. "We've seen several examples of her intelligence and she constantly underlines her competitive nature. If she works with other horses, she can be quick. If she works alone, she will give you five furlongs in 1:04."

Snow Dance is expected to make her next appearance in the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 13. The Wards are also considering the $250,000 Garden City Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 9 as a prep for the Queen Elizabeth but will probably pass and train the filly to the Keeneland race. They feel they have a good one here and will give her every opportunity to prove it to the rest of the world.