09/06/2002 12:00AM

Wonder Again ready despite short rest


ELMONT, N.Y. - Some exceptionally talented fillies have won the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap, including the last three: Perfect Sting, Gaviola, and Voodoo Dancer.

Ten fillies will try to add their names to that distinguished list when the Garden City, the only Grade 1 race for 3-year-old turf fillies in New York, is run on Sunday at Belmont Park.

Four of the 10 fillies entered, including Wonder Again, the 2 1/4-length winner of the Grade 2 Lake Placid, carry 119 pounds as the co-highweights of the 1 1/8-mile race.

Wonder Again picks up five pounds off her impressive Lake Placid win on Aug. 18 at Saratoga. A Silver Hawk filly, she took the lead in midstretch and won under a hand ride. The 1 1/8-mile Lake Placid was Wonder Again's third consecutive win, a streak that began here on June 26 when she won a maiden race.

"I couldn't be happier; she's done everything possible so far," said Wonder Again's trainer, Jimmy Toner. "This race is a little close, but the race is here, it's a Grade 1, and the money is there. She hasn't done anything wrong since the [Lake Placid] to show us she couldn't reproduce that effort."

Toner said he hopes that Wonder Again, who drew post 6, has a pace to stalk. Edgar Prado rides.

The likely pacesetter is Nunatall, who won the Grade 3 Lake George by a head on July 29 at Saratoga. It was the second consecutive win for the Bobby Frankel-trained Nunatall, who raced in France last year.

In the 1 1/16-mile Lake George, Nunatall pressed the pace on the inside through honest fractions, including six furlongs in 1:10.36. Frankel said Jorge Chavez, aboard the filly for both her wins this summer, gets on well with Nunatall.

"[Nunatall] likes to go into that first turn a little too fast," said Frankel, who also entered foreign import Pertuisane. "If the rider takes too much hold of her, she'll try to bear out."

Mariensky, making her American debut in the Lake George, finished a fast-closing third, a half-length behind Nunatall.

"She's put on a lot of weight and is mentally more settled than when she first came here in the first week of July," said Mariensky's trainer, Christophe Clement, who won the Garden City last year with Voodoo Dancer.

When Riskaverse finished second in the Lake Placid, she gave six pounds to Wonder Again. This time Riskaverse carries 119, the same as Wonder Again.

Foreign invaders Kithira and Spring Star arrived from Europe earlier in the week.

- additional reporting by David Grening

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