02/18/2006 12:00AM

Pletcher filly works fast for U.S. bow


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Safari Queen, a champion last year in her native Argentina, will put her lofty reputation on the line for the first time in the U.S. when she takes on seven other fillies and mares in a third-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf Monday at Gulfstream Park.

Safari Queen captured 3 of her 4 starts in 2005, including a pair of Group 1 races. A versatile filly, she won stakes on both turf and dirt before being purchased privately by Alan Cohen's Arindel Farm and turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher.

"She was actually 2-year-old champion in Argentina last year even though she's officially listed as a 4-year-old in this country now," said Pletcher. "They lose a year coming to the United States from the Southern Hemisphere."

Safari Queen has several fast works over the Palm Meadow turf course in preparation for her U.S. debut, including a bullet five furlongs in 59 seconds on Jan. 30.

"She's trained very well, and in the morning seems to prefer the grass a little better than the dirt," said Pletcher. "This race looks like a good starting point for her, but as is the case with most South American imports the longer she's here the better she'll probably get as she acclimates to the U.S."

Trainer Bill Mott, who won stakes races over the weekend at both Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs, will send out uncoupled stablemates Pommes Frites and Bridal Path in the race.

Pommes Frites is the stronger of Mott's pair, coming in off a fourth-place finish behind Laurafina in Calder's Grade 3 Frances Genter Stakes on Dec. 31. A homebred daughter of Dynaformer, Pommes Frites won a second-level allowance race at a mile on turf at Belmont Park in her previous start two months earlier.

Wild Wedding continues to hold her form well, with a win and three seconds in her last four starts. Claimed for $40,000 at Calder on Nov. 21, Wild Wedding rallied from near the rear of the pack to finish less than two lengths behind Thetactics Ofdance under similar allowance conditions here on Feb. 3.

Quies finished 3 1/2 lengths in front of Thetactics Ofdance when beaten a head by Brazilian in her local turf debut. The race was the first in blinkers for Quies, who got a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure in the new equipment.