08/23/2004 11:00PM

'Summer Wind' blowing east again

Birdstone, with Saturday's Travers Stakes lined up, heads back to trainer Nick Zito's barn Tuesday morning with Maxine Correa riding.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The California-based filly Summer Wind Dancer makes her second foray to the East Coast when she faces champions Azeri and Storm Flag Flying in Friday's Grade 1, $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga.

Summer Wind Dancer was successful in her last trip east, winning the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths last month. Trainer Jeff Mullins, who has had Summer Wind Dancer since February, says the 4-year-old filly has made great strides in her training the last two months, which has paid off in the afternoon. Before winning the Delaware Handicap, Summer Wind Dancer won the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"Just before the Hawthorne, she finally started to train willingly," Mullins said Tuesday from California. "She started getting a hold of the bridle, getting a little more aggressive. It took her a while to get over that hump. We haven't had to force her to do too much lately. She was just lazy. She wanted to be the boss. We had to let her know who was the boss."

Mullins said he chose the Personal Ensign because it is at 1 1/4 miles, the same distance of the Delaware Handicap. If he has any fear of Azeri - the two-time defending older female champion and 2002 Horse of the Year - he wasn't displaying it on Tuesday.

"Just another horse, ain't it?" Mullins said. "I'll just have her as ready as I can get her and we'll lead her over there."

Summer Wind Dancer was expected to ship to New York from California on Wednesday. Victor Espinoza, her regular rider, will come in for the mount.

At 116 pounds, Summer Wind Dancer will be in receipt of six pounds from topweighted Azeri. Storm Flag Flying (116), Board Elligible (112), and Nevermore (110) are the other expected starters.

On Tuesday, Nevermore blew out three furlongs in 35.88 seconds on Saratoga's main track. Trainer James Bond acknowledges that he is taking a shot in here. Edgar Prado will ride.

"My filly's definitely got a mile and a quarter pedigree, we've got the right rider, and sometimes you got to take a chance," Bond said. "Ashado got beat the other day."

Weaver out for strong finish

Trainer George Weaver will bring out his heavy artillery this weekend in hopes of turning around what has been a disappointing summer at Saratoga.

Weaver will run the Gotham winner Saratoga County in the Grade 1 King's Bishop, and the Poker Handicap winner Christine's Outlaw in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap.

Saratoga County has lost four races since winning the Gotham at Aqueduct in April. Weaver believes Saratoga County had a legitimate excuse when he finished a well-beaten fourth in a second-level allowance race on July 31.

"It rained and the track was muddy, and I wanted Jerry [Bailey] to get him into the race," said Weaver, who is just 2 for 37 at this meet. "He had to steady a little bit, and he's not the type of horse you can stop and go, stop and go. I was using the race to try and place myself for the King's Bishop. I feel he had a legitimate excuse in the race, and I wanted four weeks between races."

Christine's Outlaw has become a terror since Weaver put him on the turf in June. He has two wins and a neck loss from three grass starts including his win in the Grade 3 Poker Handicap. Weaver purposely skipped the Bernard Baruch to have a fresh horse for the Fourstardave.

"He's training better than he ever has in his life," Weaver said. "His last few races got us excited. We're hoping he can take us to the Breeders' Cup."

Weaver said Edgar Prado would ride Christine's Outlaw in the Fourstardave.

Medallist, Pomeroy fire King's Bishop bullets

Medallist prepared for his return to one-turn racing in Saturday's King's Bishop by drilling five furlongs in 58.41 seconds Tuesday morning over Saratoga's main track. It was the fastest of 36 works at the distance.

"He went good - the track was fast, it was early in the morning," trainer Allen Jerkens said. "He seems to be doing okay, but I thought he was doing okay before the last one."

The last one was the Jim Dandy, in which Medallist tried two turns for the first time and finished fifth, beaten 16 lengths.

Also working Tuesday for the King's Bishop was Pomeroy, who was credited with a four-furlong time of 46.88 seconds, the fastest of 44 works at the distance. He worked in company with Ball Four. Pomeroy is coming off a three-quarter-length loss to Bwana Charlie in the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes.

"He works all the time in company. He's a bit of a lazy horse," trainer Patrick Biancone said.

Calling Pomeroy's previous workout, five furlongs in 57.72 seconds on Aug. 18, "faster than usual," Biancone said, "We wanted to tighten up the screws."

Others pointing to the King's Bishop are Bwana Charlie, Fire Slam, Hosco, Ice Wynnd Fire, and Weigelia.

Spotlight's next uncertain

After winning her first graded stakes in Monday's Grade 2 Lake Placid by five lengths, Spotlight's next start is undetermined. Christophe Clement, Spotlight's trainer, mentioned several possibilities for the 3-year-old filly.

The first race on the calendar would be the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 12. Another Grade 1 mentioned by Clement is the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland at Oct. 16.

"The ambitious spots are the Garden City and the Queen Elizabeth," said Clement, who also brought up the Boiling Springs at Monmouth on Sept. 12 and the Pucker Up at Arlington Park on Sept. 18 as possible spots.

"I'll enjoy yesterday's win, wait 10 days, and go from there," Clement said.

Clement said the same spots that Spotlight is under consideration for would also be suitable for Seducer's Song, who won the Grade 3 Lake George here on Aug. 2. Last Saturday, Seducer's Song finished fourth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

"She lacked racing luck, but ran very well," Clement said. "She came out of the race in good order and will fly back here [Wednesday]."

More immediately, Clement will be represented by two grass fillies in Monday's $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap. Clement will run Derrianne, who hasn't run since finishing ninth as the favorite in the Hollywood Wildcat Breeders' Cup Handicap at Calder on May 1. Clement said he also would run either Madeira Mist or Snowdrops in the Grade 3 Ballston Spa, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson