04/06/2006 12:00AM

'Bling' has versatility in his favor

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Too Much Bling returns to New York seemingly a different horse than the one that left here last fall. If he's able to duplicate his Southern California form at Aqueduct on Saturday, he should win the Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes.

Only four horses are scheduled to face Too Much Bling, with Songster looking like the most formidable foe.

began his career in Ohio, winning a maiden race at Thistledown by 19 1/2 lengths in his second start. Stonerside Farm bought majority interest in Too Much Bling, a gray son of Rubiano, and transferred him to trainer Bob Baffert.

After running third in the Grade 1 Hopeful, Too Much Bling was well beaten in the Grade 1 Champagne and Grade 3 Nashua at distances probably beyond his best.

He was shipped to Southern California, and following a freshening he has returned with stakes wins in the San Miguel and Grade 2 San Vicente. In the San Miguel, where the early fractions were 21.03 seconds and 43.80, Too Much Bling came from off the pace. In the San Vicente, where the fractions were 21.72 and 43.97, Too Much Bling was on the lead.

"I think he's a very versatile horse,'' jockey Garrett Gomez said Thursday from California. "If they're going too fast I can get him to shut off, and if I can get him to shut off he quickens really well. The other day, another horse hooked him head and head and I couldn't quite get him back and he won that way, too. It really depends what kind of mood he's in.''

Gomez said "perfect" when he was told that Too Much Bling drew post 5.

, a son of Songandaprayer, won his maiden at first asking on Jan. 28, running seven furlongs in 1:21.59, which was just .02 of a second off Gulfstream Park's track record for seven furlongs. In his second start, Songster finished second behind Exclusive Quality, who lowered Gulfstream's track record for seven furlongs to 1:21.11 and then came back to win the Spectacular Bid Stakes last weekend.

"We're putting him into a difficult spot after he only ran two times, but it's not like the horse needs experience,'' Albertrani said. "He's got plenty of speed and he's going to be out there giving it his all. It's just a matter of how far he's going to take his speed and how good he is.''

One Way Flight, Devil's Concierge, and Trailing Twelve would need the top two to falter to have a chance to win.