06/04/2003 11:00PM

When it rains, Wonder Again pours it on


ELMONT, N.Y. - The relentless rain of recent weeks has left the Belmont Park turf course soggy, but that has not dampened the mood of trainer Jimmy Toner, who relishes the idea of getting Wonder Again on a softened course in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

"I'd love to see a little give in the ground," Toner said.

He should get his wish for the one-mile race for older fillies and mares, especially after another daylong deluge on Wednesday. Those are ideal conditions for Wonder Again, who last year won an allowance race and the Lake Placid Stakes on courses rated yielding at Saratoga.

Those two victories were part of a four-race win streak that culminated with Wonder Again's victory in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park. After getting the winter off, Wonder Again returned May 3 and was a close second in Aqueduct's Beaugay Handicap, finishing in between Delta Princess and Voodoo Dancer, two of her rivals Saturday.

"I was very happy with her race and effort," Toner said. "She probably wasn't 100 percent for that race. Maybe 80, 85 percent. I had her in Florida. I started to pick up the tempo, and then it was, 'Oh my God, she's got to run in three weeks.' She's going to go forward."

Delta Princess scored her first stakes victory, and third straight win, in the Beaugay. She had a conditioning edge that day. She had raced twice previously this year, while Wonder Again and Voodoo Dancer were coming off long layoffs.

Voodoo Dancer is a top-class runner who has won nine times in 18 starts, including stakes last year at Del Mar, Churchill Downs, and Belmont Park. She, too, needed her last race, according to trainer Christophe Clement.

"I was happy with the way she came back. She just got tired," Clement said.

Clement, however, believes Voodoo Dancer is better on firm ground, so the midweek rain concerned him.

"She loves firm," he said. "If it rains right before the race, it's not great for me."

As insurance, Clement entered Mariensky, who won last Saturday's Sheepshead Bay Handicap on a soft course.

Voodoo Dancer and Wonder Again share top weight of 119 pounds with Riskaverse, a Grade 1 winner who won a money allowance race May 18 at Belmont in her first start in 6 1/2 months. Riskaverse was second to Wonder Again in two stakes last year, then beat Wonder Again in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Keeneland.

Main-track specialists Raging Fever and Smok'n Frolic are entered for dirt only and will be the highweights if the race is forced onto the main track.