10/24/2006 11:00PM

Summerly on the outside looking in


An overflow of 15 horses were pre-entered for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, including 14 Grade 1 winners, making this the deepest field assembled in the 23-year history of the race.

It is only the third time that the Distaff field has oversubscribed and the first time since 1992 when 15 horses were pre-entered. All Breeders' Cup fields are limited to 14 starters.

This year's field is so deep that one Grade 1 winner, Summerly, will need a defection to make it into the entry box next Wednesday. Summerly was not selected into the field by the Breeders Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. Summerly has won 1 of 3 starts this year, that coming in the overnight Ashado Stakes at Saratoga. Ironically, Summerly was brought back this year primarily because the Breeders' Cup is being run at Churchill Downs, where she won the 2005 Kentucky Oaks.

Scott Blasi, the trainer of Summerly, was more disappointed than angry that his 4-year-old filly didn't make it.

"It's disappointing she didn't get in,'' said Blasi, who trains Summerly for Winchell Thoroughbreds. "It's a competitive race but I think she belongs. I'm going to train her like she's going to get into the Breeders' Cup.''

Mike Watchmaker, the Daily Racing Form national handicapper, installed Fleet Indian as the 2-1 favorite followed by Pine Island (5-1) and Balletto (6-1).

Shug McGaughey, the trainer of Pine Island, has participated in 11 previous runnings of the Distaff winning three, including last year with longshot Pleasant Home.

"I don't know if it's the best [Distaff] that ever was but it's a pretty solid bunch,'' McGaughey said.

Fleet Indian has won eight consecutive races, including all six since being purchased by Paul Saylor and turned over to Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher also pre-entered Spun Sugar, winner of the Apple Blossom and Go for Wand handicaps this year, and Pool Land, who won the Ruffian in her last start. Spun Sugar and Asi Siempre, the Spinster winner, each had to be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup for a fee of $180,000.

Three of this year's Distaff runners ran in the race last year: Hollywood Story (8th), Happy Ticket (11th), and Healthy Addiction (last).

Balletto, runner-up in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, did not run at all last year and has not won in five starts this year. But she earned enough points in American graded stakes to earn an automatic berth into the field. She lost the Go for Wand by a nose to Spun Sugar and the Beldame by a head to Fleet Indian.

On Wednesday, Balletto worked five furlongs in 1:02.83 over Belmont Park's training track.

"That was a good move for her,'' trainer Tom Albertrani said. "Looks like she's better right now than she has been all year.''

Provided Summerly doesn't get in, the Distaff field, with riders, will be: Asi Siempre (Julien Leparoux), Baghdaria (Rafael Bejarano), Balletto (Corey Nakatani), Bushfire (Alex Solis), Fleet Indian (Jose Santos), Happy Ticket (Garrett Gomez), Healthy Addiction (Victor Espinoza), Hollywood Story (David Flores), Lemons Forever (Mark Guidry), Pine Island (Javier Castellano), Pool Land (John Velazquez), Round Pond (Edgar Prado) Sharp Lisa (Pat Valenzuela), and Spun Sugar (Mike Luzzi).