10/19/2005 11:00PM

BC Distaff: Pleasant Home Shug's latest


ELMONT, N.Y. - Here's a good bar bet for your racing friends over the next week or so. Ask them which trainer has the second-most wins in Breeders' Cup history.

First place is a free bingo space. D. Wayne Lukas has run more horses (143) and won more races (17) than anyone else over the 22 years of the Breeders' Cup. But second is Shug McGaughey, who has fashioned an outstanding record in the World Thoroughbred Championships. The Hall of Fame trainer has won with 8 of 47 starters, and has had 24 of his 47 runners finish in the top four. His horses have earned $7,653,560, trailing only Lukas, Bobby Frankel, and Bill Mott.

McGaughey has won with horses ranging from the longshot Dancing Spree in the 1989 Sprint to the sublimely perfect Personal Ensign in the 1988 Distaff. The Distaff has been a particularly fruitful race for McGaughey, who also won it with Inside Information in 1995.

McGaughey will try to win the $2 million Distaff again this year, on Oct. 29 at Belmont Park, but he will be a decided longshot to do it. He will send out Pleasant Home, a late-developing filly who is coming off consecutive second-place finishes in Grade 1 races, the Ballerina at Saratoga, and the Spinster at Keeneland.

"She's sort of going in the right direction," McGaughey said Thursday as he watched his horses train on a cool, crisp morning at Belmont Park. "She closed a lot of ground at Keeneland, which is tough to do at that track, and

I think she'll like one turn. She moved forward off the Ballerina, and I think she can move forward again."

The Distaff is around one turn at 1 1/8 miles. The Spinster also is 1 1/8 miles, but it was around two turns. Pleasant Home has won twice in three starts at Belmont, all in races around one turn.

McGaughey harbors no illusions about Pleasant Home's chances. He admits she is a longshot. But he pointed out that 14 horses pre-entered the Distaff, "so it means everybody doesn't think there's a big standout."

Pleasant Home, 4, is by the McGaughey-trained Seeking the Gold, and is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Our Country Place, a mammoth mare who also produced the stakes winner Country Hideaway. She is a Phipps-family homebred.

"She's got a lot of Pleasant Colony in her," McGaughey said of Pleasant Home. "She's a big, rangy thing."

Because of her size, Pleasant Home did not make her debut until April 2004. She has made just 11 lifetime starts, and has won 4, including the Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct in April. She has had a couple of brief interruptions during her career with injuries that were "nothing major, just little things," McGaughey said.

Pleasant Home ran twice at Saratoga this summer, and has remained there since the meet ended to train because "she likes that track," McGaughey said.

Next week, she will head back to Belmont Park and take on Ballerina winner Happy Ticket, Spinster winner Pampered Princess, and defending race winner Ashado in the Distaff.