09/29/2004 11:00PM

Society Selection legs up to face elders


ELMONT, N.Y. - Society Selection, winner of the Test and Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.36 Thursday morning over the Belmont main track. Society Selection is preparing for a start in the $750,000 Beldame on Oct. 9.

The Beldame will be Society Selection's first start against older fillies and mares. She is expected to take on Sightseek and Storm Flag Flying in that race.

"You have to do it sooner or later," trainer Allen Jerkens said about running against older horses. "It's the only game they have left."

Three-year-olds have fared quiet well in the Beldame, winning 12 of the last 20 runnings of this 1 1/8-mile race.

Jerkens said his filly has rebounded nicely from two hard races at Saratoga.

"She's unusual for most fillies in that she eats very well," Jerkens said. "So far, she has eaten better than any 3-year-old filly I've ever been around, so maybe that's an indication how well she's doing."

Passing Shot aims for return in First Flight

Jerkens said Passing Shot, who is nominated to the Beldame but won't run, could return to the races by the end of October. Passing Shot, winner of the 2003 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga, has been sidelined since July with a bruised foot.

"She galloped strong today and was sound afterwards," said Jerkens, who will target the $150,000 First Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on Oct. 30 for Passing Shot.

Proud Man's long vacation nearly over

Proud Man, a multiple stakes winner who has had an extended vacation from the races, is preparing for a return to competition. On Thursday at Belmont Park, Proud Man worked a half-mile in 48.21 seconds over the main track.

It was Proud Man's third work since returning to trainer Christophe Clement's barn in August. Clement said the 6-year-old Proud Man required a freshening after finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 21.

Proud Man, who won the Sunshine Millions Turf in January at Gulfstream Park, is nominated to the Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Oct. 9, but Clement is not sure if the horse will be ready to run that soon.

"He worked well today and the Kelso is an option," said Clement, who won back-to-back runnings of the Kelso with Forbidden Apple in 2001 and 2002. "I'm not sure we are ready to run yet, but he is on his way."

In last year's Kelso, Proud Man finished second, falling short by a nose to Freefourinternet. Proud Man earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in that mile grass race.

Carminooch is well-connected

Among the horses expected to take on the undefeated Caribbean Cruiser, who will be a short-priced favorite in Sunday's $100,000-added Bertram F. Bongard, is Carminooch, a good-looking maiden winner at Saratoga in August.

Three Amigos Stable, a partnership that includes Tony Sirico, who plays Paulie Walnuts on the hit HBO show The Sopranos, owns Carminooch.

The Bertram F. Bongard, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old New York-breds, will be Carminooch's second career start. In his debut, the colt won a 5 1/2-furlong statebred maiden race by 3 3/4 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 77.

"He is giving up a little experience to Caribbean Cruiser," said Todd Pletcher, Carminooch's trainer. "But the timing is good, and obviously if he runs well we would like to look at the Sleepy Hollow."

The Sleepy Hollow will be run on New York Showcase Day on Oct. 23.

The other expected starters in the Bongard are Accurate, Big Apple Dandy, Chanceux Vous, Freddy the Cap, and Up Like Thunder.

A large field looks likely for Sunday's $100,000-added Joseph A. Gimma, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old New York-bred fillies.

Among the expected starters is Swither, who won a stakes at Delaware Park by 10 lengths in her last start. Reddy for Rubys, who won the Lady Fingers Stakes at Finger Lakes in her last start, is also expected.

Toccet works fast for go at Meadowlands Cup

Toccet, preparing for a start in the Meadowlands Cup, breezed five furlongs in 59.66 seconds over Belmont's main track. Jorge Chavez was aboard for the work, the fastest of 32 moves at the distance.

Toccet finished second behind Powerful Touch in an allowance race at Saratoga on Sept. 6. It was his first start for trainer Bobby Frankel.

* Birdstone, the Belmont Stakes and Travers winner, worked six furlongs in 1:15.98 Thursday morning at Saratoga as he prepares for a start in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

* A memorial service for trainer Phil Johnson is scheduled for after the races Wednesday in the Marquee Tent near the paddock.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson