09/27/2007 11:00PM

One race at a time for Ginger Punch

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - When it comes to Ginger Punch, trainer Bobby Frankel doesn't want to talk about the Breeders' Cup until later.

"Let's get this race over with first," Frankel said.

This race is Sunday's Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame at Belmont Park, a 1 1/8-mile race in which Ginger Punch will be favored against six rivals. Frankel also entered Sugar Shake in the Beldame, but said she would run only if something happened to Ginger Punch.

Coming off back-to-back Grade 1 victories in the Go for Wand and Ruffian, Ginger Punch has established herself as the leading older filly or mare dirt horse in the country. Her Go for Wand victory also secured her a position in the starting gate for the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park since, like the Beldame, it is part of the "Win and You're In" promotion. Ginger Punch's owner, Frank Stronach, would still have to ante up a $180,000 fee to nominate her.

With the Breeders' Cup at Monmouth, a track known for favoring inside runners, Frankel is leery of putting up that money and drawing an outside post.

"It's like flushing it down the toilet on that track," said Frankel, who also believes a victory in the Beldame would wrap up a divisional championship for Ginger Punch.

Thus, Frankel is focused on the Beldame, which comes just 22 days after Ginger Punch beat three horses in the Ruffian. While her Ruffian came up weak on the Beyer Speed Figure scale - she earned a 95 after three triple-digit figs - other speed figures rated it a good performance.

"The one she won by six, that was a down race on the sheets," Frankel said of the Go for Wand.

After watching the way Ginger Punch has trained this week, Frankel is not leery about running her back on 22 days' rest.

"I was just commenting this morning how good she looks going to the track," he said.

With Balance and Indian Vale in the field, the Beldame appears to have come up tougher than the Ruffian or Go for Wand. Balance, trained by Southern California-based David Hofmans, has won her last two starts run over conventional dirt. She has lost her last three races, all run on synthetic surfaces.

Hofmans believes the dirt, plus the 1 1/8 miles of the Beldame, will benefit Balance, who will break from post 7 under Victor Espinoza.

"She acts like she's back to the level that she was at, and I think the major thing here is the distance of this race is going to help," Hofmans said. "A mile and a sixteenth is an okay race for her, but the internal part is not good for her. I think the mile and an eighth will help her."

Indian Vale is cutting back to 1 1/8 miles after two subpar performances at 1 1/4 miles. Indian Vale is 6 for 6 at 1 1/8 miles, though all those victories have come around two turns. This race is run around one turn.

"I'm very pleased with the filly and how she's training," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Indian Vale. "She looks great. My biggest concern is the one-turn aspect of this race."

Pletcher will also send out Unbridled Belle, another who appears to prefer two turns.

Miss Shop is in excellent form, having won the Grade 1 Personal Ensign and finishing second to Ginger Punch in the Ruffian. Miss Shop does her best running from off the pace and would benefit from a pace duel between Indian Vale and Mo Cuishle.

"This track hasn't been favoring the come-from-behind horses like it used to," Jerkens said. "The day she won at Saratoga, it was conducive to the outside horses."

Ice Cool Kitty, who just won the Floral Park for New York-breds on Thursday, was entered back as her connections hope to get a Grade 1 placing for breeding purposes.