02/16/2005 12:00AM

Bear Fan heads Fritchie cast


Bear Fan, the standout mare whose eight career wins include a victory in the 2004 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park, is one of 10 fillies and mares entered in the $200,000 Fritchie, a Grade 2 race that will be renewed Saturday in Laurel, Md.

, who won the Fritchie last year as the even-money favorite, will be ridden Saturday by John Velazquez in the seven-furlong race. Bear Fan, who arrived at Laurel on Tuesday from Palm Meadows in south Florida, will be trying to make amends for a recent second-place finish as the 2-5 favorite in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint.

Although Ryan Fogelsonger rode Bear Fan in her Fritchie triumph last year, Velazquez has ridden the 6-year-old mare in her last four starts and was named again by Wesley Ward, who bred, co-owns, and trains Bear Fan.

The Fritchie is one of three major events to be run this weekend in Laurel's annual Winter Sprintfest. The other Sprintfest races are the $150,000 John B. Campbell Breeders' Cup, which also will be run Saturday, and the $200,000 General George, a Grade 2 race set for Monday.

Besides Bear Fan, who has earned nearly $750,000 and will be the 121-pound starting highweight, the other starters in the Fritchie include , a 5-year-old mare who has won 7 of her last 9 starts and is trained Rick Dutrow; Sensibly Chic, whose runaway victory in the Jan. 29 What a Summer at Laurel earned her an eye-popping Beyer Speed Figure of 108; and Lavender Lass, the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained winner of the Correction Handicap at Aqueduct in her most recent start.

The rest of the Fritchie field is Josh's Madelyn, Richetta, Santa Croce, Silmaril, Spectacular Moon, and Wallop.

The Campbell, a 1 1/8-mile race for older males, drew what appears to be a very well-matched field of eight, including Offlee Wild, making his first start since winning last year's Massachusetts Handicap. The rest of the Campbell lineup is Offlee Wild, Little Matth Man, Jim Thirds Bolero, Ole Faunty, Hydrogen, Your Bluffing, Coast Line, and Ouaga-dougou.

Meanwhile, in the General George, a field of at least eight older horses was likely to pass the entry box Friday, according to Laurel's stakes coordinator, Wendy Pensivy.

Don Six and Gators N Bears, the one-two finishers in the recent Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct, will start as the 118-pound co-highweights in the absence of Cajun Beat (123 pounds) and Aggadan (119). Don Six, trained by Scott Lake, earned a Beyer Figure of 116 in winning the six-furlong Paumonok on Jan. 29.

The other General George prospects are Taste of Paradise, 117 pounds; Unforgettable Max, 115; Houston's Prayer, 114; New York Hero, 114; Saratoga County, 114; and Bocca al Lupo, 113.

* A fund-raising dinner held Sunday night at Laurel Park to benefit 5-year-old Noah Grove netted more than $120,000. Noah Grove is the son of trainer Chris Grove and the grandson of Phil Grove, a Maryland steward and former jockey. Noah Grove suffers from bone cancer and recently underwent a leg amputation.