08/20/2002 11:00PM

They've each met their match


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - On the eve of the $1 million Travers for 3-year-olds, which appears dominated by Medaglia d'Oro, Friday's $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap for fillies and mares, a Grade 1 feature at 1 1/4 miles, promises unusually keen competition between two outstanding performers who are among the leaders of their division.

Dancethruthedawn, a Canadian filly who beat the colts last year in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, won the Grade 1 Go for Wand here four weeks ago and has never been better. The same can be said about Summer Colony, who comes to the Personal Ensign off a victory, despite heavy traffic, in the Delaware Handicap at 1 1/4 miles.

In drawing up weights for the Personal Ensign, racing secretary and handicapper Mike Lakow was unable to separate Summer Colony and Dancethruthedawn, assigning them both 120 pounds. They have similar records: Dancethruthedawn is a winner of 7 of 14 starts, while Summer Colony has won 8 of 16. Both have recorded Beyer Figures of 110 and both have displayed a distinct fondness for this track, Summer Colony in two races last season she won by a combined margin of 41 lengths, and Dancethruthedawn in the Go for Wand which she won by almost four lengths.

"The two of them appear to be very close together," says Mark Frostad, who trains Dancethru-thedawn for the Sam-Son Farm of Toronto. They are both versatile in their running styles and are usually in stalking positions, but have the speed to go to the front if necessary. They met once, in the Pimlico Distaff Breeders' Cup, and Summer Colony won by a nose.

Summer Colony also holds a decision over Azeri, the best of the older fillies and mares on the West Coast. Only a length separated them in the La Canada at Santa Anita, however. It should also be noted that Azeri and Dancethruthedawn have won Grade 1 stakes while Summer Colony has not.

Jerry Bailey, whose outstanding performance on Dancethruthedawn was a key factor in her Go for Wand victory, once again will ride the 4-year-old daughter of the remarkable Mr. Prospector. She is out of Dance Smartly, who beat the colts in Canada's premier race, and who has produced two Queen's Plate winners. This is superior breeding and may give her an edge in a confrontation Friday that is exciting to contemplate.

Chalk up another to Toner

It looks like Jimmy Toner has another fine filly prospect, Wonder Again, who won the $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap on the turf last weekend. Wonder Again, who is by Silver Hawk, stalked the pace in the nine-furlong Lake Placid and exploded in a furious finish under Edgar Prado to win by more than two lengths. The highly regarded Riskaverse, a stakes winner of some $300,000, was second.

"I have the greatest respect for Riskaverse," Toner said Wednesday morning. "When Wonder Again was able to pass Riskaverse, she established her credentials with me. She never started at 2 because of foot problems and the fact that she was not developed physically. But she had a good winter in Florida and has come to hand quickly in recent weeks. We will take a look at the Garden City at Belmont next month, and her major goal will be in the fall in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Keeneland.

"We had another daughter of Silver Hawk called Memories of Silver, who won four stakes at Saratoga and also accounted for the Beverly D. at Arlington."

Toner has enjoyed unusual success with fillies such as Soaring Softly, who won the 1999 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and Buzz My Bell, who won the Spinaway at Saratoga in 1983. He gives his fillies plenty of time to develop and they seem to appreciate the care they receive.