06/05/2002 11:00PM

Voodoo Dancer faces obstacles


ELMONT, N.Y. - She is coming back on just 12 days' rest, including a cross-country trip, drew the outside post, and carries top weight. There is much against Voodoo Dancer in Saturday's $200,000 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park, except for the fact that she is the best horse in the race.

Voodoo Dancer, a winner of seven of 12 starts, will attempt to solidify her position as the best female turf runner in the East in the one-mile Just a Game, a Grade 3 race that goes as the seventh race on the marathon 12-race Belmont Stakes card.

Voodoo Dancer most recently finished third, behind Astra and Starine, in Hollywood Park's Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap on Memorial Day. This will be her third race in five weeks, but it's a schedule at which she thrived last fall, when she won the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap, on the Belmont turf, when making her third start in five weeks.

"She's a very peculiar filly in that the more work you do, the better," said trainer Christophe Clement, who sends out both Voodoo Dancer and Coney Kitty in the Just a Game. "A lot of fillies would go down in their form, but she did not tail off. She came back well from the Gamely."

Jerry Bailey, who is unbeaten in two starts on Voodoo Dancer, has the mount. They break from the outside post in a field of 11. Voodoo Dancer carries 122 pounds, anywhere from five to 11 pounds more than her rivals.

Clement said his biggest fear is Tates Creek, a winner of four of six starts who is coming into the race off a late-running victory in the Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland for trainer Bobby Frankel. She gets in with 117 pounds.

"I was surprised at the weight shift I got with the Frankel filly," Clement said. "She won the Beaugay with 119, got beat in California, and got 122 for this. I thought she'd be closer to 119 than 122."

There is plenty of pace in the race, with the likes of Cozzy Corner, I Met Somebody, Penny Marie, and Walts Wharf, which should aid the late runs of Voodoo Dancer and Tates Creek, as well as Stylish and Coney Kitty, who won a Belmont allowance race on May 11.

"She was very impressive," Clement said. "She has a high cruising speed. It's time to go in a stake and see what she's got."

Miss Gazon, who is making her first start in this country, won a Group 3 stakes race against males in Germany last year and twice won allowance races at major racecourses in France.