07/26/2002 12:00AM

Atelier can roll seven for McGaughey


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Whether it is called the Maskette or the Go for Wand, the Grade 1 race for fillies and mares has trainer Shug McGaughey's name written all over it.

Since 1988, McGaughey has won this race (known as the Maskette before 1992) six times, including last year with Serra Lake. Sunday, McGaughey will seek his seventh victory when he sends out Atelier against Grade 1 winners Miss Linda and Forest Secrets as, well as stakes winners Dancethruthedawn, With Ability and Too Scarlet. Transcendental, runner-up in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, completes the field.

Atelier, a 5-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister, is coming off a one-length victory over Summer Colony in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth. Summer Colony came back to win the Delaware Handicap on July 21.

Atelier took command of the Molly Pitcher early in the race, dragging Eibar Coa to the front entering the first turn and never looking back. McGaughey believes Atelier is more effective "if she's got speed in front of her." Edgar Prado rides from post 4.

McGaughey also believes Atelier is a better two-turn horse, which is borne out by the fact she is 5 for 6 around two turns, including three graded stakes wins. Though Atelier is 9 for 20 lifetime, McGaughey believes her record could even be better.

"I've always had the impression she was better than what she gave me all the time," McGaughey said. "I'm hoping Sunday will be a breakthrough race for her."

Miss Linda and With Ability should supply the speed McGaughey seeks for Atelier.

Miss Linda, who won last year's Spinster at Keeneland, is making her first start since April 6, when she finished third behind Azeri in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap. She came out of that race with a hock infection.

After some time off, Miss Linda has trained exceptionally well for Kimmel, who is looking for a big effort on Sunday.

"On her A race, I think she's as good as any filly in the country," said Kimmel, who won this race in 1997 with Hidden Lake. "I would have liked to have a race under her belt, but it's no big deal. She's had really good preparation for this. Whether or not she can win right off the bench, we'll see."

Breaking from the rail, Miss Linda figures to flash her speed under Richard Migliore. She will most likely find company in With Ability, who has three wins and two seconds since attempting two turns. She comes out of a second-place finish behind Spain in the Fleur de Lis on June 15 at Churchill Downs.

"She ran big that day," said trainer Mark Hennig, who is enjoying a super year, with 19 stakes wins. "Churchill's a tough track to go wire to wire over the first time."

Hennig admits With Ability is one-dimensional and is concerned about hooking up early with Miss Linda.

Forest Secrets has done her best when it was least expected. As a 3-year-old, she won the Acorn at 50-1 and the Falls City Handicap at 22-1. After defeating Summer Colony by three lengths in the Rampart Handicap in March, she has turned in two subpar efforts in both the Louisville Breeders' Cup and Fleur de Lis handicaps. Forest Secrets had a rough trip in the Fleur de Lis, but was only beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

"I think she can be a stalker," trainer John Ward said. Jockey Pat Day, he said, "had a rough trip last time, but he did learn that she can close."

A hot pace should suit Dancethruthedawn nicely. Dancethruthedawn finished third in the June 15 Fleur de Lis after beginning her year with a victory in the Doubledogdare at Keeneland and a nose loss to Summer Colony in the Pimlico Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Jerry Bailey, who rides Dancethruthedawn, will have extra incentive to ride well on Sunday. That day, Saratoga will give out Jerry Bailey bobbleheads to each paying customer.

The Go for Wand will be televised on delayed tape on ESPN (6-7 p.m. Eastern).

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