04/07/2008 12:00AM

Spectacular Zada Belle takes big rise


LEXINGTON, Ky. - In the eternal search for the next Pat Day, racing fans in Kentucky hitched their bandwagon for a few years to Rafael Bejarano. Even before Day retired from his legendary riding career in August 2005, Bejarano was on the rise, winning his first of four Keeneland riding titles at the 2004 fall meet.

Bejarano won his latest Keeneland title last fall, but since then the 25-year-old Peruvian has announced he intends to ride in Southern California on a permanent basis. Nonetheless, opportunities to ride in big-money races in Kentucky will occasionally present themselves to Bejarano - and, in fact, he will be here through this week to ride Golden Doc A in the Stonerside Beaumont, Precious Kitten in the Jenny Wiley, and Doppio in the Commonwealth Stakes.

First, however, comes the Grade 2 Vinery Madison, in which Bejarano rides Zada Belle, a Godolphin Racing rocket whose first two career starts, both easy wins at Santa Anita, resulted in Beyer Speed Figures of 98 and 95. By making her stakes debut Wednesday in the $200,000 Madison, Zada Belle will be taking a sizable step up in class, and much of the prerace focus will be on whether she can successfully make the leap.

Eleven fillies and mares are entered in the seven-furlong Madison, which goes as race 8 Wednesday. Zada Belle will break from the outside post in a deep cast that also includes such proven entities as Wild Gams, winner of the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes here last fall; Street Sounds, winner of the Grade 2 Beaumont here last spring; Mini Sermon, winner of the Grade 2 Top Flight at Aqueduct in November; and Dawn After Dawn, winner of the Grade 2 La Canada at Santa Anita in February.

Other viable contenders include Ventura for Bobby Frankel and Carriage Trail for Shug McGaughey.

Besides riding here through Saturday, Bejarano, who returned to action last weekend after being sidelined with two small vertebrae fractures suffered in a one-horse spill March 13 at Santa Anita, also will be back at Churchill Downs for most of Kentucky Derby week, said his agent, Joe Ferrer.

o There is no carryover Wednesday in the new Super High Five wager, which was hit for the first time Sunday after carrying over the first two days of the meet. A winning $1 ticket paid $15,877.40.