10/20/2003 11:00PM

Some like it hot, but not Islington


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Michael Stoute voiced concern last week about shipping Islington from England to Southern California for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. And his worst fears have been realized considering the unseasonably warm temperatures that greeted his filly upon her arrival over the weekend.

Islington, a troubled third in the 2002 Filly and Mare Turf, got noticeably hot when cantering over the main track shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, although earlier on Tuesday morning she appeared less affected by the heat when she galloped over the local turf course for the first time.

"I'd really prefer if the Breeders' Cup was held at Belmont Park or Churchill Downs where the climate is the same as we're used to back home," said Stoute, who was flying from England Tuesday and scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita in time to oversee Islington's final preparations for the Filly and Mare Turf Wednesday morning.

Islington got a little more aggressive than planned into and around the clubhouse turn during her one-mile gallop on Tuesday, which came in company with stablemate Researched.

Islington is ranked first in her division in the NTRA World Thoroughbred Rankings and could be the favorite in the Filly and Mare Turf. She comes off a troubled third-place finish behind High Chaparral in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 6, and Stoute is looking for her to race much closer to the pace on Saturday.

"She got further back than I'd have liked in the Champion," said Stoute. "I don't know quite why. It wasn't intentional, but she finished well and I think the effort shows she's every bit as good now as she was when she came for the Breeders' Cup last year. The plan on Saturday is to keep her a little closer to the lead and hope she can get a clear run home."

Meanwhile, trainer Dermot Weld has confirmed that jockey Pat Smullen will be reunited with Dimitrova in the Filly and Mare Turf. Smullen was Dimitrova's regular rider in Europe, where he guided her to a third-place finish earlier this year in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Jerry Bailey has ridden Dimitrova in her last two U.S. starts, which include a one-length victory in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational. Bailey will ride Heat Haze for trainer Bobby Frankel in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Also for Weld, Smullen will ride Refuse to Bend in the Mile and Relaxed Gesture in the Juvenile.

Dimitrova jogged a mile, then galloped 1 1/4 miles over the main track on Tuesday, and was tentatively scheduled to work on the grass on Wednesday morning.

The field for the Filly and Mare Turf field was likely be reduced to 13 when entries were drawn Wednesday morning. Trainer Elie Lellouche said Tuesday he was leaning toward running his multiple Group 1 winner Bright Sky in the Breeders' Cup Turf, even though he gave first preference to the Filly and Mare Turf when pre-entries were taken last week.

Should Bright Sky end up in the Turf, it will mark the third consecutive year the Filly and Mare Turf has not drawn a full field.