09/25/2003 11:00PM

Wild Berry fastest by far


ELMONT, N.Y. - Wild Berry is a standout among seven 2-year-old New York-bred fillies entered in Sunday's $100,000-added Joseph A. Gimma at Belmont Park.

Wild Berry, a winner of 2 of 3 starts, is coming off a seven-length romp in a first-level allowance race here on Sept. 10. A daughter of Wild Event, Wild Berry also won her career debut impressively at Saratoga July 24. In that race, she pressed the pace and drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths.

In between those wins, Wild Berry, who is owned and bred by Steeplechase Farm, finished fifth in the Grade 2 Adirondack on Aug. 11 at Saratoga. Mike Gorham, who trains Wild Berry, said the filly had a solid excuse in the Adirondack.

"We scoped her after the race and she had a lot mucus and a little infection," said Gorham, who trained Wild Berry's mother, Deer Berry. "We had a little bit of time and got her cleaned up. I thought she ran a big race last time."

Wild Berry's Beyer Speed Figures in her winning races, 81 and 85, are far better than most of her rivals.

Cornelio Velasquez rides Wild Berry from post 4 in the seven-furlong Gimma.

Capeside Lady earned an 84 Beyer when she won a Saratoga maiden race by 8 3/4 lengths on Aug. 7. In her next start, she finished last in the Grade 3 Sorority at Monmouth Park over a track that was labeled wet-fast.

Capeside Lady's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said the track was wetter than that.

"It basically rained very hard before the race; I would call it harrowed sloppy," Pletcher said. "She got off a little slow and it's tough to make up ground on a track like that."

A wet track appears likely for Sunday.

Fait Accompli, a half-sister to stakes-winning New York-bred Sherpa Guide, won a maiden race at Belmont by 1 3/4 lengths on Sept. 5.

Spinster next stop for Miss Linda

Miss Linda, who has spent a great deal of the last year on the sidelines, is being pointed to the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 5, a race she won two years ago.

Little has gone right for Miss Linda, who is now 6, since she won the Spinster. Last year, she came up lame after running fourth in the Go for Wand at Saratoga. Trainer John Kimmel was getting the mare ready for a return to the races, when she became cast in her stall and banged her knee. She suffered a fracture, which required a layoff, but not surgery.

Since her return to competition in July, Miss Linda finished second in an allowance race at Monmouth Park; was fourth in the Go for Wand; and third in the Personal Ensign in her last start.

Kimmel said Miss Linda, who will be bred next year, would have to run a big race in the Spinster to run back in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. After winning the 2001 Spinster, she was supplemented to the Distaff by Ackerley Brothers Farm for $400,000. She finished sixth.

"It would have to be a major performance for her to run in the Breeders' Cup," Kimmel said. "She'll have to prove herself."

Miss Linda will leave for Kentucky on Monday. Mark Guidry will ride her in the Spinster because, Kimmel said, her regular rider, Richard Migliore, has a commitment at Belmont that day.

Hook and Ladder retired

Kimmel also reported that graded stakes winner Hook and Ladder has been retired. A 6-year-old son of Dixieland Band, Hook and Ladder won $388,120 and retires with a record of 6-2-3 in 19 starts. Owned by Chester and Mary Broman, Hook and Ladder won two graded stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Championship in 2001 and the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector in 2002.

Hook and Ladder, who raced three times this year without a win, had recently been battling breathing problems. He finished sixth in his last start on Sept. 11 in an allowance race.

"We just couldn't beat his respiratory problems," Kimmel said.

Hook and Ladder is expected to stand stud in New York for the 2004 breeding season.

* Scenes from a Woody Allen-directed movie were filmed at Belmont on Friday. Allen, who was at the track, directed scenes in the morning and afternoon in the box-seat area in the clubhouse and in the backyard. One hundred extras and several actors, including Will Ferrell, a former cast member on "Saturday Night Live" were part of the filming process. Several years ago, Allen filmed scenes for the movie "Mighty Aphrodite" at Belmont.

* Spoken Fur, working for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 11, covered five furlongs in 1:01.26 over the main track on Friday. Trademark, who is nominated to next Saturday's $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont and the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, worked a half-mile in 48.74 seconds over a soft Oklahoma turf at Saratoga.