07/14/2008 12:00AM

Rewrite faces familiar rival in Irish Actress


ELMONT, N.Y. - New York Showcase Day isn't until Oct. 18, but some grass stars from last year's Showcase program are in action in two different races Wednesday.

In the featured Irish Actress, a $75,000 overnight stakes scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Widener course, Rewrite and Factual Contender, the one-two finishers from the 2007 Ticonderoga Handicap, square off for a fourth time.

Earlier, Al Basha, away for nearly nine months since winning the Mohawk Handicap with a stirring stretch run, makes his 4-year-old debut in a $58,000 second-level allowance scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf.

Factual Contender and Rewrite traded close decisions last fall and renewed their rivalry when second and third, respectively, in the Mount Vernon Handicap here May 18. They head a field that includes Latitude Forty, the upset winner of last year's Yaddo Handicap; Junkanoo Party, an overnight stakes winner making her second start back from a long layoff; and Jesse's Justice, whose last victory came in an overnight stakes at Saratoga, also named the Irish Actress.

Factual Contender and Rewrite have each been exceptionally consistent. The former, now 7, has been first or second in 9 of 11 turf races for trainer Barclay Tagg, recording Beyer Speed Figures of 91 or better each time. Rewrite has won 6 of 11 on Belmont turf; her most recent win on firm turf here came in yet another Irish Actress overnight stakes, back in September 2006.

Factual Contender looms as the controlling speed in a field lacking early pace, but Rewrite stretches out off a win with a lifetime Beyer top (97) on the Widener at seven furlongs and projects to be stalking inside off a layoff of nearly six weeks.

"She has trained well," trainer Christophe Clement said. "I don't do much with her in the mornings because she's a light-framed horse."

The Clement-trained Gravitational comes off an eye-catching win last month and may be in position to set the pace against late-rallying contenders Blazing Dynamo, Real Quality, and Broadway Producer in race 5.

"His last quarter-mile [22.40] was superb," Clement said, "but this is a much better race."

Al Basha took a while to come around and figures to get a good conditioning race for the upcoming West Point Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 10.

"He got older and wiser on me," trainer Angel Penna Jr. said. "He's not at the top of his game, but he's ready to run a decent race; he's very honest and gives you whatever he's got."