01/10/2008 12:00AM

Baby Bird fresh for stakes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Baby Bird has run some races that would certainly be good enough to win Saturday's $75,000 Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct. Neither of her last two efforts would qualify.

But following a brief freshening, and with the prospect of dry footing and facing a suspect group of fillies and mares, Baby Bird could record her first stakes victory in the Affectionately, contested at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track.

The Affectionately field swelled to eight when an overnight stakes restricted to 4-year-old fillies did not fill for Saturday.

Baby Bird, a 5-year-old daughter of Cape Town, is also entered in Saturday's $80,000 What a Summer Stakes going six furlongs at Laurel Park, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said she would most likely run here.

Baby Bird has run well fresh. She won her debut and won off a 10-month layoff, and finished a solid second to Leah's Secret in the Anne Arundel Stakes at Laurel Park off a seven-week layoff - about the same amount of time since she last raced entering the Affectionately.

In her last two starts, Baby Bird was beaten double-digit lengths in stakes that were run over wet tracks.

"It's easy to say it was the wet tracks, but I can't be sure," Dutrow said. "I know the filly's training good. I've been looking for a reason to stop on her and tell the owners to breed her, but I can't find one. I think she's ready to run."

Channing Hill rides Baby Bird from post 7.

Victory Pool returns after running third in the Affectionately last year, and will be bred to Forest Wildcat following this race. Victory Pool, a 6-year-old daughter of Victory Gallop, is coming off a classified allowance win at Philadelphia Park. There is more speed in this year's Affectionately than last year - when Great Intentions went gate to wire - and that is to Victory Pool's advantage.

"We got up to within a length, but she took off again," said trainer Ben Perkins Jr. of last year's Affectionately. Victory Pool "is always right there, she tries hard. Hopefully, she'll make a nice broodmare."

Victory Pool is the 117-pound highweight.

Stage Luck, a $1.6 million daughter of Unbridled's Song, has won her last two starts, both since adding blinkers. She comes off an optional-claiming victory here in November.

"We know this is a bit of a step up for her, but it will be a good test," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "We had some other opportunities lined up for her about a month ago, but I wasn't really happy with the way she was training then. She's been showing a lot more in her training lately."