10/09/2008 12:00AM

Stakes-winning 3-year-olds solid vs. elders


ELMONT, N.Y. – The stakes-winning 3-year-olds Sea Chanter and Polar Circle and five older fillies and mares meet in Friday’s feature, an optional claimer with third-level allowance conditions carded as race 8, and scheduled for the inner turf at 1 1/16 miles.

With the turf still drying out and labeled “good” to start the week, and a chance of showers Thursday, the ground should have some give to it, which both 3-year-olds should find agreeable.

The well-traveled Sea Chanter won the $250,000 Epitome on a boggy Monmouth Park turf course over Breeders’ Cup weekend last fall, before closing out her juvenile campaign with a win in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher. A daughter of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner War Chant, she makes her third start of the season, after disappointing finishes in two overnight stakes at Saratoga.

Polar Circle won twice in England at 2, notably the listed Empress Stakes over soft ground at Newmarket. She showed speed in her first two U.S. starts for trainer Bill Mott, both sprints, and stretched out for a wire-to-wire victory at Monmouth last out.

Polar Circle looms the main speed, and therefore Gary Contessa is hoping Jeux de Danse, who is entered for the optional $75,000 claim price, doesn’t come up against the same kind of tactical disadvantage that occurred when he reclaimed her from a fifth-place finish behind Survived – a filly that had been claimed away from Contessa in her previous start and wired the field after setting a slow pace.

“Survived is a good filly,” said Contessa. “You can’t let a filly like that go in ridiculous fractions of 26 and 51 [seconds] with everyone taking a hold and expect to catch her.”

Jeux de Danse was originally claimed for $35,000 by Contessa at Aqueduct in the spring, and won over this turf course at the spring meet, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure (92) that matches up to anyone in Friday’s field. She also has won both of her starts over non-firm turf.

“I know this three-other-than condition can be tough, but the bottom line is she’s trained really well,” said Contessa.

Star Dixie has raced exclusively on firm turf in a 12-race career for Stanley Hough, including a one-length win over Jeux de Danse off a three-month layoff in May. She also won her season debut off a freshening, so she may go well first time out since trying overnight stakes rivals June 1.

Le Cordon Bleu, So Glitzy, and Leap in the Sun complete the field.