01/12/2006 12:00AM

Bohemian Lady no sure thing

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Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTOS
Amazing Buy, winning the Pennsylvania Oaks in September, stretches out to 1 1/16 miles in the Affectionately.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's hard to argue with bettors who want to take a stand against short-priced favorite Bohemian Lady in Saturday's $65,000 Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct. Nine times in her 16-race career, Bohemian Lady has been favored, but she has won only two of those starts.

On the six occasions in which Bohemian Lady was favored in a stakes race, she lost. That includes a head decision to India Halo in last month's Ladies Handicap, in which Bohemian Lady was the 4-5 choice.

finished well ahead of three of her five Affectionately rivals in the 1 1/4-mile Ladies, however, and she is the only graded stakes winner in the six-horse Affectionately field. Moreover, she cuts back to a better distance, 1 1/16 miles, and figures to benefit from a wet track, which is likely to be the case if the forecast is correct.

Bohemian Lady has finished second in her last three stakes tries, the combined margin of defeat being 1 1/2 lengths. In the Ladies, Bohemian Lady dueled with , but was run down late by India Halo, who came back to finish second against males in the Gallant Fox Handicap.

"It's hard to be picky when you lose the whole thing by a head," said Seth Benzel, the Todd Pletcher assistant who is overseeing Bohemian Lady's training this winter. "The race set up well, and when all was said and done the mare ran hard and just came up a little short."

On Sunday, Bohemian Lady worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds, the best of 76 works at the distance. Bohemian Lady will break from post 2 under Jose Santos and carry high weight of 118 pounds.

Bohemian Lady will likely face pace pressure from After the Tone again. After the Tone probably found the distance of the Ladies too far and will appreciate cutting back.

After the Tone's stablemate, Freeroll, would benefit most from a hotly contested pace.

Strategy and Provincial make up the coupled Shug McGaughey-trained entry. Strategy won the Real Prize Stakes on the main track before finishing sixth in the Ladies. Provincial goes turf to dirt for the third time in her career. The previous two times she has done that, she has won.

won two listed stakes over the inner track as a 3-year-old but is coming off two bad races. Her connections believe she didn't like running on a sealed muddy track in the six-furlong Interborough Handicap on Jan. 1. The last time she stretched out from six furlongs to a mile and 70 yards on the inner track, she won the Busanda Stakes.