07/01/2003 11:00PM

Riskaverse ready to reward backers


ELMONT, N.Y. - For the most part, the powerhouses in the filly and mare turf division are based on the West Coast. On Friday at Belmont Park, the best of the East square off in the $250,000 New York Handicap.

Nine entered the Grade 2 New York including last year's winner, Owsley. Grade 1 winner Riskaverse is the 119-pound highweight of the 1 1/4-mile turf race.

Riskaverse, who adores the Belmont turf, should be ready for a big effort. Although Riskaverse is 0 for 2 in 1 1/4-mile races, her trainer, Pat Kelly, doesn't believe the distance is an issue. In her last race June 7, Riskaverse finished second in the Grade 3 Just a Game Breeders' Cup, beaten two lengths by Mariensky.

"The longer, the better," Kelly said. "Her last race was great considering it was a bog."

John Velazquez rides Riskaverse from post 8.

Bobby Frankel, who has won 30 graded stakes this year, has a three-horse entry consisting of Lilac Queen, Pertuisane, and Trekking. The horses are coupled in the wagering because Frankel has ownership interest in Pertuisane.

Although well suited to the distance, Lilac Queen must rebound from a dismal performance in her last start. Lilac Queen was beaten 20 lengths as the favorite in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay over a soft course on May 31.

"I thought she would handle it, but each bog is different," Frankel said. "She has picked it up since her last race. She lost some weight, but she is back to her old self."

Frankel said Lilac Queen, who will be ridden by Jerry Bailey from post 6, won't be far behind the early leaders.

Pertuisane ran a huge race here last year to finish third in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup. She would benefit from a sharp pace and might get some help from front-runner Trekking, whom Frankel decided to enter only on Wednesday when he saw that the race lacked any serious speed horses.

Trekking would have been a heavy favorite in an allowance race here last Sunday, but was scratched in the paddock because she was wearing improper shoes for the turf.

Christophe Clement, who won the 2001 New York with England's Legend, sends out the uncoupled entry of Mariensky and Sixty Seconds.

Mariensky is in super form. She is undefeated in three starts this year, including the Sheepshead Bay and the Just a Game. She displayed her versatility by winning the 1 3/8-mile Sheepshead Bay and a week later winning the one-mile Just a Game. Both races were run over extremely soft courses.

"She can sit well on a firm course too," Clement said.

Jose Santos rides Mariensky from post 7.

Sixty Seconds, a Group 1 winner in Australia, makes her North American debut and first start since October. She receives first-time Lasix.

Owsley finished a well-beaten second to Mariensky in the Sheepshead Bay.

"She needed her last two races; this ought to be a better race for her than the last one," trainer Randy Schulhofer said.

Snow Dance, who didn't handle the soft going in the Sheepshead Bay, and Sunstone complete the field.