10/15/2003 11:00PM

Overseas entries dominate field

Dimitrova, shown in a workout yesterday, will be among the favorites under jockey Jerry Bailey.

As expected, the 2003 Filly and Mare Turf will have a distinctly European flavor. Ten of the 14 pre-entrants have spent part or all of their careers racing in Europe, and if all 14 start, it will mark the first time the $1 million Filly and Mare Turf has had a full field since 2000, when Perfect Sting won the event at Churchill Downs.

U.S.-based horses have won three of the first four editions of the Filly and Mare Turf. Banks Hill, who dominated the 2001 edition at Belmont Park, is the only Euro invader to have won the race.

This year's European contingent is led by Islington, who is rated first in her division in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's World Thoroughbred Rankings. Islington finished third in the 2002 Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park after breaking slowly and encountering early trouble. But the trip trainer Michael Stoute is concerned about is the one Islington must make from England to California on Friday.

"What happened to her in the Breeders' Cup last year is over with and been buried," Stoute said. "What worries me is having to travel so far to take on others who will be racing over their home track."

Dimitrova made her first three starts this year in Ireland before coming to the U.S. and winning both the American Oaks and Grade 1 Flower Bowl for trainer Dermot Weld. She figures to go off among the favorites in the Filly and Mare Turf under jockey Jerry Bailey.

Bright Sky, Yesterday, Mezzo Soprano, and L'Ancresse will be making their U.S. debuts in the Filly and Mare Turf. Bright Sky was also pre-entered in the Turf, but her first preference is the Filly and Mare Turf.

Musical Chimes has had only one start in the U.S., finishing a fast-closing second behind Tates Creek in Santa Anita's Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon. After the Yellow Ribbon, Musical Chimes was transferred from trainer Andre Fabre to Neil Drysdale and will race with blinkers for the first time on Breeders' Cup Day.

Starine and Banks Hill finished first and second for trainer Bobby Frankel in the Filly and Mare Turf last year. Frankel will have a triple threat next Saturday consisting of Tates Creek, Heat Haze, and Megahertz. Both Heat Haze and Megahertz began their careers in Europe and came to the U.S. after their 2-year-old campaigns. Megahertz must be supplemented to the race at a cost of $90,000.

Aside from Tates Creek, the only other pre-entrants for the 1 1/4-mile Filly and Mare Turf that have raced exclusively in the U.S. are Voodoo Dancer, Riskaverse, and Bien Nicole.

Del Mar Oaks winner Dessert made two starts as a 2-year-old in England before joining trainer Richard Mandella's barn for her 3-year-old campaign.

Nebraska Tornado, who would have been another top European contender for the Filly and Mare Turf, was not pre-entered for the race. A promising 3-year-old filly, Nebraska Tornado is owned by Juddmonte Farms, which will also have Tates Creek and Heat Haze in the field. Juddmonte's American manager, Dr. John Chandler, said starting three horses in the race would be "a little over the top."

Bien Nicole, runaway winner of the Oct. 5 WinStar Galaxy, stretched her legs over the Keeneland turf course Thursday, when she went five furlongs in 1:01.80 with Frank Lovato Jr. aboard for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. Bien Nicole will be ridden in the BC Filly and Mare Turf by Don Pettinger.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee