Updated on 09/16/2011 8:23AM

Summer Colony takes one-turn test


ELMONT, N.Y. - Summer Colony, the leader of the older filly and mare division on the East Coast, is part of an exceptional field in Saturday's $750,000 Beldame at Belmont Park.

The Grade 1 Beldame, a weight-for-age race, drew seven runners, including Ruffian winner Mandy's Gold, Gazelle winner Imperial Gesture, and Alabama runner-up Allamerican Bertie.

Older horses carry 123 pounds. Imperial Gesture and Allamerican Bertie, the only 3-year-olds in the field, tote 120 pounds. Three-year-olds have done very well in the Beldame, winning the race seven times since 1990.

Summer Colony has won four stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga in her last start on Aug. 23. She also finished second in the Rampart and Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup.

The 1 1/8-mile Beldame could play an important role in the outcome of the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at Arlington Park Oct. 26. It is there that Summer Colony once again will meet Azeri, the undisputed leader on the West Coast. Summer Colony presented Azeri with her only loss this year in the La Canada at Santa Anita in February.

Unlike the Distaff, which will be run around two turns, the Beldame is a one-turn race.

Summer Colony's nine career wins have all come in two-turn races.

Summer Colony's trainer, Mark Hennig, said he doesn't want Summer Colony, who drew the rail, to become embroiled in any early tussles.

"The biggest test is the one turn," Hennig said. "She is better suited to two turns. Sometimes these one-turn races turn into sprints and she is not a sprinter. I'm going into the race confident she is the best horse, but we don't want to do anything to jeopardize her at the finish. She's at her best from the quarter pole to the wire."

John Velazquez rides Summer Colony, who is coupled in the wagering with Unrestrained.

Unrestrained would like an off track, but Summer Colony lost two starts earlier in her career on muddy tracks. Showers are in Saturday's forecast.

Mandy's Gold stepped up to the challenge of stretching out in the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian and passed the test with flying colors. Mandy's Gold, who had been setting the pace in sprint stakes, sat off a strong pace in the Ruffian and rambled home a 2 1/4-length winner.

Mandy's Gold's trainer, Michael Gorham, thinks his filly is a capable of a repeat.

"She is the kind of filly you can rate, so she has enough to finish strong," Gorham said. "The one turn is good because can relax with a long run down the backstretch."

Jose Santos rides Mandy's Gold, who drew post 6.

Speed comes in the form of Imperial Gesture and Allamerican Bertie.

Imperial Gesture, owned by Godolphin Racing, received a freshening after the Kentucky Oaks and won her last two starts impressively, including a front-running victory in the Grade 1 Gazelle. She covered the Gazelle's 1 1/8 miles in near stakes-record time of 1:47.12.

"It always helps that you have a fresh horse," said Godolphin assistant trainer Tommy Albertrani. "Right now, she seems to be at her best."

Jerry Bailey rides Imperial Gesture from post 3.

Allamerican Bertie set the pace in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama before Kentucky Oaks winner Farda Amiga wore her down in the final yards.

"I would enjoy someone going to the lead and us relaxing, but if they don't, we are going to take it," Allamerican Bertie's trainer, Steve Flint, said.

Transcendental has been the bridesmaid in three Grade 1 races, the Ogden Phipps, Go for Wand, and Personal Ensign. Minister's Baby was a non-threatening fourth in the Ruffian.