10/03/2003 11:00PM

Sightseek gives record to Frankel

A number of horses stamped their tickets to the Breeders' Cup on Saturday, such as Sightseek (above), who was a powerful winner of the Beldame.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It remains to be seen if Azeri will be healthy enough to defend her Breeders' Cup Distaff title. If Azeri does make it, she will have a formidable foe waiting for her in Sightseek.

Sightseek set up the sexy potential matchup when she disposed of six overmatched rivals Saturday, rolling past Bird Town in midstretch and drawing clear to a 4 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 before 7,591 at Belmont Park. Bird Town, who set the pace, held second by 4 3/4 lengths over Buy the Sport.

The Beldame was the 23rd Grade 1 victory of the year for trainer Bobby Frankel, eclipsing the one-year mark of 22 set by D. Wayne Lukas in 1987.

The victory was also the fourth consecutive Grade 1 for Sightseek, who was making her first start since winning the Go for Wand at Saratoga on July 27. She missed the Ruffian because of a cough, but showed no rust in the Beldame.

"I think she's ready," said Jerry Bailey, Sightseek's jockey. "I hope the other one [Azeri] is."

Azeri suffered her first defeat in 12 starts last weekend in the Lady's Secret Handicap at Santa Anita. She bled in that race, and her status for the Breeders' Cup remains uncertain.

"I always like to see the easiest race possible," Frankel said. "Azeri's a great filly, she carried a lot of weight, and she didn't break good the other day, and the race didn't set up for her. It's probably going to be the best race on the card if they all show up."

In his record-setting run this year, Frankel recorded 13 Grade 1 stakes victories in New York. Sightseek accounted for three of those New York Grade 1's, adding the Beldame to a resume that includes the Ogden Phipps and Go for Wand.

Sightseek was close up early, then dropped three lengths off the pace down the backside. She re-engaged from the outside around the turn, collared Bird Town turning for home, and drew clear when asked. Sightseek, a Juddmonte Farms homebred daughter of Distant View, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.27 over a fast track. She returned $2.60 as the 3-10 favorite. There was a minus show pool of $54,653.

Though Bird Town lost the race, trainer Nick Zito believes that her second-place finish to Sightseek should be enough to earn the 3-year-old filly championship. Bird Town won the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn earlier this year.