09/05/2007 11:00PM

Take D' Tour's goals exceed Ruffian


ELMONT, N.Y. - The connections of Take D' Tour already have reservations for next month's Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park. On Saturday, it is up to their 6-year-old mare to confirm them.

Take D' Tour returns to Belmont Park for Saturday's Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap, shooting to get another graded stakes victory over this track while putting in a solid enough performance to propel her to next month's $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff. Last year, Take D' Tour won the Shuvee and Phipps at Belmont and was second in the Ruffian.

It looked as though Take D' Tour was going to have things her own way on the front end in Saturday's Ruffian until trainer Allen Jerkens decided to put Teammate in the race.

Now, the Ruffian looks very similar to the Gradeo1 Ogden Phipps Handicap on June 16 when Take D' Tour dueled with Teammate through fast fractions - 23.07 seconds, 44.97, and 1:09.24 - before holding off Ginger Punch by a neck. Teammate, Ginger Punch, Miss Shop and Rahys' Appeal round out the quintet entered in the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian.

"Should have got beat," said David Fawkes, trainer of Take D' Tour, of the Phipps. "The race set up so she's supposed to get beat. She ran hard enough to win."

Fawkes said he gave Take D' Tour plenty of time to recover from that race, believing that he over-raced her last year, which resulted in her missing the Breeders' Cup. Fawkes didn't breeze Take D' Tour for a month after the Phipps, but said her last breeze - a five-furlong move in 1:00.20 on Sunday at Calder - prompted an enthusiastic call to Take D' Tour's owner, Alice Muller.

"The bear's back; she woke up out of her hibernation," Fawkes said he told Muller. "The other day was just a picture-perfect breeze. I couldn't have asked for anything better."

Take D' Tour will break from post 4 under regular rider Eibar Coa.

Trainer Bobby Frankel believes David Flores left Ginger Punch too much to do in the Phipps. Rafael Bejarano is back aboard and has been in the irons for all five of Ginger Punch's victories, including the Go for Wand last out.

Frankel is of the opinion that Teammate will be taken back in the Phipps, meaning, he said, "I'll have to keep [Take D 'Tour] entertained myself."

The game of cat-and-mouse could set things up for Miss Shop, who returns two weeks after coming from off the pace for an upset win in the Gradeo1 Personal Ensign.