06/27/2002 12:00AM

Babae vs. Watch


Eight months ago in Kentucky, veteran turf mares Babae and Watch faced each other in the Cardinal Handicap.

Babae bobbled in her second stride out of the gate and wound up sixth as the 6-5 favorite. Watch, despite going three wide on the first turn and five wide into the stretch, won by a length.

The rematch will come at Philadelphia Park in Saturday's $100,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Although Watch won the head-to-head matchup last November, it's the New York-based Babae who will likely be favored again. The 6-year-old Babae is coming off a neck win in the Grade 3 Just a Game on the Belmont Stakes undercard, her 11th victory in 32 turf starts.

Watch has raced only once since her victory in last fall's Cardinal. Five weeks ago, the 5-year-old Watch made her seasonal debut in the Gallorette at Pimlico, but may have disliked the yielding turf and backed up to finish sixth in a seven-horse field.

The only other graded stakes winner in the field of 13 is 7-year-old Quidnaskra. She flourished on the soft turf, winning the Gallorette, but was eighth in her subsequent start in a minor stakes at Delaware three weeks ago.

Longshot players might consider either Miss Gazon or Aviate'em. Miss Gazon will be making her United States debut. She won 3 of 5 starts in Europe and shows a string of good works at Belmont Park. Aviate'em, who performed well in three turf races in Florida, makes her first start for John Salzman and adds Lasix. Salzman has scored with a remarkable 41 percent of horses making their first start for him the past two years.

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