08/23/2001 11:00PM

Spain vs. 'Supreme' in Ballerina


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The highly contentious duel for Saratoga's trainer's title between Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and Bill Mott takes center stage Sunday when the two face off in the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina Handicap.

Entering the weekend, Lukas and Mott were tied atop the trainer standings with 14 wins apiece. In Sunday's Ballerina, Lukas sends out Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain against Mott's defending Ballerina winner Dream Supreme in the seven-furlong race. The Ballerina (ESPN, 5-6 p.m. Eastern) also drew Country Hideaway, Shine Again, and Imadeed.

Lukas, with five titles, and Mott, with seven, have won or shared 12 of the last 15 Saratoga championships. The two tied for the 1992 title.

Mott, who figures to start more horses the rest of this meet, has the edge for the title. Dream Supreme also figures to have an edge over Spain in Sunday's Ballerina.

Spain, away from the races since finishing fourth in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn April 8, begins her road to the Breeders' Cup in the Ballerina. For Dream Supreme, the Ballerina could serve as her Breeders' Cup race, as it is the most prestigious Grade 1 remaining at her preferred distance of seven furlongs.

"For me, this is our big race," said Mott, who noted that a decision regarding a second attempt at the six-furlong Breeders' Cup Sprint "is something that will be determined later on."

In addition to excelling at seven furlongs, Dream Supreme is perfect at Saratoga. She won her maiden here as a 2-year-old and took the Grade 1 Test and Ballerina here last year.

Dream Supreme, by Seeking the Gold out of 1993 Ballerina winner Spinning Round, is coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder on July 10. She has since come back with three stellar workouts over Saratoga's main track.

"She looked well going to Florida, she looks good now," Mott said.

Although Spain prefers a route of ground, she did win the Grade 1 La Brea at seven furlongs last December at Santa Anita. "You always got to respect class," said Lukas, who has won the Ballerina four times. "No matter what the distance, with class you can do some things that sometimes you don't normally do. When you put the class factor in there, we're dangerous. She has a tendency to rise to the occasion."

Dream Supreme and Spain are co-highweights at 122 pounds. They will be spotting nine pounds to Imadeed, who figures to get loose on the lead under Gary Stevens. Her downfall may be seven furlongs.

Country Hideaway, the 2000 Ballerina runner-up, will be flying late under John Velazquez as she looks to give trainer Shug McGaughey his sixth Ballerina title. Shine Again completes the field.