02/16/2007 12:00AM

Barbara Fritchie BC Handicap preview

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Saturday, February 17
Laurel Park - Race 9
7 Furlongs
Barbara Fritchie Breeders' Cup Handicap (Grade 2)
3-year-olds and upward, fillies and mares
Purse $300,000

OPRAH WINNEY and SMART AND FANCY both may have been aided by a rail-biased track in the Interborough Handicap at Aqueduct, but the latter had to ease off the rail at the top of the stretch to go after pacesetting Oprah Winney. While falling short in that six furlong test, Smart and Fancy galloped out past the winner, and should appreciate stretching out to the distance of her Maryland Million Lassie win. The ultra-consistent filly has finished first or second in each of her last eight races, owns three local wins, and shows a bullet work in preparation for this start. She should also sit a good stalking trip just off the speeds.
Multiple stakes-winner Oprah Winney earned a big triple-digit Beyer in the Interborough, but may not be as effective at this seven furlong distance, and will be under the gun from the inside post. She's sharp and dangerous, but may face pace pressure from the likes of DIXIE MARRONE and GREAT INTENTIONS. LEAH'S SECRET enters this following two straight victories around one turn, and she should get a solid pace to attack in the Fritchie. Closers seemed to have the edge at Laurel on November 25, however, so you may want to downgrade that 96 Beyer performance just a tad. The Grade 2 winner goes out for a hot barn, and should make her presence felt late.
SILMARIL is 7-12 over the Laurel strip, and she's won the last three times she's stepped over this surface. She's very solid, sheds seven pounds, and is another that would benefit from a quick pace. CARMANDIA is one of three trained by Anthony Dutrow (Oprah Winney, Smart and Fancy), and she turns back to the distance of her Grade 2 First Flight win in November. She disappointed at 5-2 in the Top Flight going a mile last time, however, and now must deal with a layoff.

Selections:
1. Smart and Fancy
2. Oprah Winney
3. Leah's Secret