08/16/2006 11:00PM

On the Bus - one and done


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - On the Bus will make the final start of her successful career in Saturday's $100,000 Yaddo Stakes at Saratoga. But there are a couple of familiar rivals who will look to spoil her retirement party.

Sabellina, who beat On the Bus by a nose in the 2004 Yaddo, and Finlandia, whom On the Bus beat by a head in a division of this race last year, are the primary challengers in the field of 11 New York-bred fillies and mares set to run 1 1/8 miles on the Mellon Turf Course.

On the Bus, a six-time winner and earner of $333,341 for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, will be retired after the Yaddo because she is in foal to Kitten's Joy, the champion turf male of 2004. Being in foal didn't stop On the Bus from winning last month's Irish Actress Stakes at Belmont by 1 3/4 lengths.

Trainer Dale Romans said being in foal has actually had a calming effect on On the Bus.

"I thought her last race was as impressive as any she's run,'' Romans said.

Finlandia was beaten only 1 3/4 lengths while third in the Irish Actress, and encountered plenty of trouble around both turns. After getting away slowly, Finlandia was forced to steady entering and around the clubhouse turn. Entering the far turn, Finlandia was inhibited by Lady Bi Bi, whose rider, Raul Rojas, had lost his irons. Jockey Eibar Coa had to wait before asking Finlandia to run.

"That's what really hurt us,'' trainer Tom Bush said. "He was going to overcome the start and the slow pace, and he seemed to be ready to do that. He was screaming at [Rojas] to get outside, you're messing the whole field up.''

Finlandia has lost three stakes for New York-bred by a combined two lengths. Bush believes this 4-year-old daughter of Royal Anthem is "definitely a bigger, stronger filly than she was last year.''

Sabellina won four of the first six starts of her career, including the Yaddo. She has won only 2 of 20 since, but her efforts this year have been very solid. She finished second to Gorella, the Beverly D. winner, in an allowance race, beat Finlandia by a neck in the Mt. Vernon, and was second to Pommes Frites in an open stakes at Philadelphia Park. She comes out of a sixth-place finish in the Diana, where she was beaten less than three lengths.

"She's learned as she's gotten older to rate a little bit better instead of moving too soon,'' trainer Joe Aquilino said.