04/04/2013 3:42PM

Aqueduct: Ruffian features rematch of Barbara Fritchie's top trio


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – In a rematch of the Barbara Fritchie’s first three finishers, Funnys Approval will be out to prove her front-running upset in the mud over My Wandy’s Girl and Withgreatpleasure wasn’t a fluke in Saturday’s $250,000 Ruffian Stakes at Aqueduct.

The Ruffian, originally run at 1 1/4 miles before being shortened to 1 1/8 miles in 1977 and to 1 1/16 miles in 1990, returns from a one-year hiatus at one mile and has been reduced from Grade  1 to Grade 2 status for its repositioning as an early-spring race. The Ruffian is race 4 on a 12-race program and the first of the day’s five graded stakes worth a combined $2.15 million.

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Funnys Approval came off four defeats on synthetic surfaces to win three races at Mountaineer by better than 16 lengths, but the 4-year-old filly was dismissed at nearly 22-1 for her upset victory in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park.

“It’s still sinking in,” said trainer Jose Lopez, who was recently presented with a new truck by Funnys Approval’s owner-breeder Bobby Rankin. “I think this race is going to be a very even race. Last time I was the underdog and nobody paid attention to me. Now they know what she is capable of doing. If someone pursues us, she can lay back. She’s a very versatile horse.”

My Wandy’s Girl was favored in the Fritchie, in which she broke from the rail and stayed inside on a day most winners were well out in the track, including Funnys Approval.

That was the first race for My Wandy’s Girl since last November. She had been shipped to Mike Hushion following eight straight wins at Camarero Park in Puerto Rico and ran twice for Hushion at Aqueduct’s fall meet, winning an overnight stakes and running third in the Gazelle.

“She kind of stayed on steady at Laurel, and [her] gallop-outs are very good parts of her works,” said Hushion. “More importantly, the more distance, the better.”

My Wandy’s Girl is drawn widest in the field of six fillies and mares.

“I love our position,” said Hushion. “A one-turn mile is a great place to sit on the outside and figure things out and make a decision a quarter-mile into the race.”

Onepointhreekarats checked in seventh in the Fritchie in her seasonal bow, but prior to that the Fair Hill-based mare won three in a row on dirt for Graham Motion, capped by a score in the Thirty Eight Go Go.

Twice the Lady, who won the Affectionately and ran second in the Top Flight through a productive winter for Tony Dutrow, will likely attract solid support.

“She’s an overachiever,” said Dutrow, who claimed Twice the Lady for $62,500 just about a year ago.