06/20/2002 11:00PM

Summer Colony will meet Spain in Pitcher


OCEANPORT, N.J. - With seven wins in her last eight starts, including three graded stakes victories, Summer Colony has positioned herself at the top of the older filly division on the East Coast. But trainer Mark Hennig says people have forgotten that Summer Colony owns the sole win over Azeri, the leading older filly out West and the pro tem leader of the division in the U.S.

Summer Colony beat Azeri in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 9, Azeri's only loss in seven starts. Azeri won three straight Grade 1's and started in the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park Saturday.

Summer Colony, a 4-year-old owned by Edward Evans, will try to retain her position atop the division on the East Coast when she makes her next start in the Grade 2, $300,000 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth next Saturday, Hennig confirmed Friday. She will square off with Spain, the richest mare in North American racing history.

"Spain is a formidable force and she has really come around of late," Hennig said from his Belmont barn. "But I'd rather take her on coming off two weeks' rest."

Spain, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, won the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs last Saturday and will return in the Molly Pitcher only two weeks later in what is shaping up to be one of the best fields in recent years.

Hennig has an exceptional group of older fillies and mares, including Fleur de Lis runner-up With Ability and Ogden Phipps Handicap entrants Mystic Lady and Raging Fever, and he said his intention has been to keep them running separately. He said Summer Colony is best around two turns, which is another reason why she will run at Monmouth instead of in this Saturday's one-turn Ogden Phipps at Belmont.

Summer Colony's only blemish in her last eight starts, dating back to August 2001, is a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 2. She was game every step of the way in nosing out Dancethruthedawn in her last start, the Grade 3 Pimlico Distaff Handicap May 17.

John Velazquez will ride Summer Colony, who will ship in the morning of the race from New York.

Bold World works

Bold World, the top 3-year-old filly sprinter on the grounds off two consecutive stakes victories, logged her last major workout Friday before she ships to Calder for the Grade 3, $250,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup on July 13. She went seven furlongs in a quick 1:26.00. Trainer Ronald Taylor said she finished up strongly, as he timed her in 24.60 for the last quarter-mile.

"She's had a couple of easy races here and I want to make sure she's fit for her next race," Taylor said. "She'll breeze one more time here but this was her last major push."

Bold World won two $50,000 stakes here for 3-year-old fillies - the Little Silver Stakes and the off-the-turf Ocean Hotel Stakes June 8, her last start. She already has six stakes wins on her record, including three this year in Florida. She won a stakes at Calder last year as a 2-year-old.

Taylor has spotted Bold World nicely this year and he is looking forward to a bright future for the filly. The Azalea Breeders' Cup will be her second graded stakes effort. Her first was this year in the Grade 2 Beaumont at Keeneland on April 26, a race Taylor said she bled badly in and ran sixth.

Taylor said Bold World would fly down to Calder three to four days before the race.

"If she's spotted correctly, she'll make a whole lot of money," he said. "She doesn't have to tackle Grade 1 races every time."

Hennig's impressive second string

Stabling for the first time at Monmouth, Mark Hennig has brought some of his bigger guns as part of his second string. Four-year-old filly Tap Dance, consistently a graded stakes runner on dirt and turf, was very convincing in a money allowance win here June 16. Cat's at Home, a multiple Grade 3 winner, made his 2002 debut here June 7 over a muddy track, not his best surface, and was beaten a neck.

Assistant trainer Rob Rader, who oversees the Hennig barn at Monmouth, said he has been pleased with the barn's performance in its rookie season here.

"The races we've been entering in have been going and that takes some of the pressure off," Rader said. "We haven't had to ship around as much."

Five-year-old Cat's at Home returned to the races June 7 in a money allowance and ran a game second. Rader said he's been doing well since then and may return in the $50,000 Skip Away Stakes for older horses next Sunday. If Cat's at Home continues to run well here, a start in the Grade 2 Iselin Handicap is a possibility.

As for Tap Dance, she was very convincing in her allowance score last Sunday. She seemed to appreciate a small drop in class and snapped a streak of four races in which she finished third or fourth against extremely competitive foes. Rader said the next start for Tap Dance has not been finalized yet.