09/07/2006 12:00AM

Pletcher's second stringers may be good enough


ELMONT, N.Y. - Todd Pletcher may be keeping his top 3-year-old turf filly in the barn, but he still has an excellent chance to win Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 at Belmont Park.

A field of 11 was entered for the Garden City, seven of whom are coming off wins in their last start.

While Pletcher is pointing Wait a While to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland next month, he will send out the uncoupled entry of Magnificent Song and Jade Queen in the Garden City, run at 1 1/8 miles over the inner turf.

Since adding blinkers in April, Magnificent Song has won 3 of 4 starts, including the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga on July 28. Despite being equipped with blinkers, Magnificent Song has developed into a stone-cold closer.

"She seemed like she was a little intimidated by other horses so we kind of put them on to keep her from worrying about who's next to her and who's around her, not necessarily trying to get any speed into her,'' Pletcher said. "I think it's just a case where she mentally matured a bit, started to relax a little bit in the early part of her races. Because of that she's able to finish up strongly.''

Garrett Gomez will ride Magnificent Song from post 7.

Jade Queen is a daughter of Giant's Causeway out of Jade Flush, who won this race in 1994 when it was known as the Rare Perfume. Jade Queen is 3 for 4 on the grass and has won her last three turf starts with significantly improving speed figures.

"Really, she's never run poorly on the turf,'' Pletcher said. "First time out she had a very troubled trip. She might be a filly that will stretch out all the way to a mile and a half, but I think she can get a mile and an eighth.''

John Velazquez rides Jade Queen from post 5.

Quite a Bride had won her first four starts on turf before finishing third to Magnificent Song in the Lake George. Trainer Bill Mott said he believes his filly didn't handle the yielding turf that day. With dry conditions prevalent since Thursday, Belmont's turf should be firm on Saturday.

Take the Ribbon won the Heavenly Cause Handicap at Churchill Downs in May before being disqualified from second and placed fourth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last month. Maxxi Arte, coming off three straight wins, ships in from Southern California for trainer Jim Cassidy, who said he believes his filly has improved by learning to settle.

"She was pretty keen in her first couple of races, a little tough holding her, we didn't get her covered up well,'' Cassidy said. "The last two or three races she's forward, but she's kind about it, she wasn't running off.''

European shippers Chaibia and La Mottie add intrigue to the race. Chaibia comes off a Group 3 win in Deauville while La Mottie was good enough to beat males earlier in the year.

The field

Garden City Breeders' Cup
Purse: $250,000; 1 1/8 miles, turf; Grade 1

1ChaibiaD. Boeuf1188-1
2May NightM. Luzzi11620-1
3DelmarvaJ. Castellano11620-1
4La MottieC. Nakatani1168-1
5Jade QueenJ. Velazquez1168-1
6Maxxi ArteK. Desormeaux1165-1
7Magnificent SongG. Gomez1183-1
8Carriage TrailE. Prado11615-1
9Take the RibbonJ. Leparoux1164-1
10Quite a BrideC. Velasquez1185-1
11In ReturnR. Migliore11620-1

* Odds by Art Gropper