09/06/2008 12:00AM

Pure Clan could get compromised

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Mother Nature could be Pure Clan's biggest challenge Saturday when the multiple graded-stakes-winning filly returns in the Grade 1, $250,000 Garden City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles over Belmont Park's inner turf.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna could bring heavy rain and wind to the area Friday night and into Saturday, making for less-than-firm turf - or perhaps no turf at all - for the Garden City, which is carded as race 3. Pure Clan has won all four of her turf starts, but they have all come on firm footing, including her three-quarter-length score in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Bob Holthus isn't sure how Pure Clan would handle wet turf, but he's relying on the fact the turf course should be in good shape since Saturday is the second day of the meet.

"The turf ought to be in pretty good shape," Holthus said. "I don't think you have to worry about the track."

Pure Clan's two-month layoff is by design. She won the Regret at Churchill on June 14, then shipped to California where she had to split horses in midstretch and outkick Satan's Circus - who is also entered in the Garden City - to win the American Oaks on July 5. There was ample pace in the American Oaks. There doesn't appear to be much speed in the Garden City.

Pure Clan, who breaks from post 5 under Julien Leparoux, will be coupled with the Bobby Frankel-trained Ariege. Both are owned mostly by the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable. Ariege returned from surgery to remove a knee chip to win an overnight stakes at Saratoga.

"Her numbers weren't that fast," Frankel said. "She has to improve a point or two and she's got a chance."

Backseat Rhythm finished seventh in the American Oaks before returning to win the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga on Aug. 15. Backseat Rhythm, who earned a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure that day, is 2 for 2 on Belmont's turf.

"Saturday's race is a step up the ladder," trainer Pat Reynolds said. "Hopefully, we're bringing the same filly over there. She shows no signs of bouncing - they never do."

My Princess Jess has been freshened since she won the Lake George. She worked a strong five furlongs in 57.80 seconds over Saratoga's inner turf course on Sunday.

Raw Silk could play out as the main speed under Edgar Prado from the rail.