10/12/2005 11:00PM

Sweet Symphony confirmed for Distaff

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Sweet Symphony, winning the Grade 1 Alabama, has four wins this year.

ELMONT, N.Y. - George Steinbrenner may not have his Yankees to root for in the World Series on the last weekend of October, but he will still have his sights set on a championship come Oct. 29.

Steinbrenner owns Sweet Symphony, the Grade 1-winning 3-year-old filly who will make her next start in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, her trainer, Bill Mott, confirmed Thursday. A victory in the Distaff could propel Sweet Symphony to an Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old filly division.

"If we're going to run, I don't know where else we'd run where we'd have anything to gain," Mott said from Saratoga. "Naturally, I'd like to redeem ourselves a little bit from the last one. I don't think the last race is an indication of her potential."

The last one was the Beldame on Oct. 1, when Sweet Symphony finished fourth, beaten 6 1/4 lengths by Ashado, last year's 3-year-old filly champion. Mott said Sweet Symphony was simply dull that day, though he had no specific reason why.

Before the Beldame, Sweet Symphony had won her first four starts, including the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, which certainly put her in contention for the title in a division decimated by injuries.

While Jerry Bailey has ridden Sweet Symphony in all five of her races, it was unclear Thursday whether he would ride her back in the Distaff. Bailey is also the regular rider of Stellar Jayne, who won the Grade 1 Ruffian in her last start and is a three-time Grade 1 winner over Belmont's main track. Stellar Jayne, owned by Godolphin Racing, finished third in the Distaff last year.

Frankie Dettori, who rides many of Godolphin's Breeders Cup horses, could ride Stellar Jayne should Bailey stick with Sweet Symphony.

Sweet Symphony will be one of four starters Mott expects to have in the Breeders' Cup. Mott will run Shakespeare in the Turf and on Monday will pre-enter Sand Springs in the Mile and Wend in the Filly and Mare Turf. Mott said the participation of Sand Springs and Wend could depend on the condition of the turf course.

"Wend or Sand Springs would be affected by soft ground," Mott said.

Pletcher may have nine for Cup

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Thursday he could pre-enter as many as nine horses on Monday to this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Definite entrants are Flower Alley (Classic); Ashado and Capeside Lady (Distaff); Adieu (Juvenile Fillies); English Channel (Turf); Lion Tamer (Sprint); and Limehouse (Mile). Host (Mile) is probable, though owner Eugene Melnyk will have to pay a $200,000 supplemental fee. Honey Ryder is possible for the Filly and Mare Turf.

The only race Pletcher will not participate in is the $1.5 million Juvenile.

Capeside Lady, beaten two lengths when third in the Spinster, would be making the last start of her career in the Distaff.

"She ran a good race in the Spinster, and she likes a wet track, which is always a possibility here that time of year," Pletcher said.

Friendly Island seeks Hudson repeat

A week before the Breeders' Cup, Belmont will host New York Showcase Day, featuring seven stakes for New York-breds with purse money totaling $1 million.

Pletcher will be represented in several of those races, as well, including the $125,000 Hudson Handicap, where he will run Friendly Island off an 11-month layoff. Friendly Island won the Hudson last year.

Friendly Island has won 5 of 7 career starts, but has not run since finishing seventh in the Fall Highweight Handicap last Thanksgiving. Pletcher said that Friendly Island had surgery to remove a chip from his knee. He resumed training this summer at Delaware Park and has seven works since Aug. 27. On Monday, Friendly Island worked five furlongs in 1:01.60.

Pletcher said the 11-month layoff does not concern him, considering what Friendly Island did in his career debut. On June 6, 2004, Friendly Island won his debut by 17 1/4 lengths and ran six furlongs in 1:08.48 over Belmont's main track.

"We ran out of time for a prep, but as well as he ran first time out, I think we'll be okay," Pletcher said. "I think on his day he's a potential open-stakes caliber sprinter."

Horsemen cope with wet tracks

Trainers with Breeders' Cup horses here have been tolerant of the wet weather this week, but noted that things need to dry out soon or they could fall behind in their preparation.

"We need to get to training by the weekend," Mott said. "We're pitter-puttering along right now. We can sort of afford to lose a couple of the days that we lost, but I don't want to lose a lot."

Mott said he left Wend in Kentucky following her runner-up performance in the WinStar Galaxy because the weather is better there.

Pletcher said his Breeders' Cup horses have not yet been affected by the bad tracks, because most have had races within the last two weeks. Pletcher said he hopes to be able to start breezing the likes of Flower Alley and Ashado by next Monday or Tuesday.

Richard Mettee, Godolphin Racing's assistant trainer, said the wet weather is likely to push back Stellar Jayne's training schedule a bit. Mettee said he was hoping to breeze Stellar Jayne on Friday, but the breeze was expected to be postponed.

"I won't breeze her till I am comfortable with the racetrack," he said.