10/19/2006 12:00AM

Bush sends out two tough fillies

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Tom Bush has two strong contenders in Finlandia and Rahys' Appeal for Saturday's $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares at 1o1/8 miles on the turf at Belmont Park.

Having the dynamic duo in the same stakes is not necessarily a blessing.

"They're both doing terrific," Bush said. "I hate running them together, I really do. They both fit the race, they're both doing well."

Bush is very enthusiastic about Rahys' Appeal, winner of last year's off-the-turf Ticonderoga by 8 1/2 lengths as a 3-year-old.

She faced open company in her last two starts, both Monmouth Park stakes, missing by less than one length in both the off-the-turf Eatontown Handicap and in the Omnibus Stakes on the grass.

In the Omnibus on Sept. 23, Rahys' Appeal was forced into a five-wide rally.

"She ran lights out," Bush said. "She was laying second down the backside when a speed horse in front of her just stopped. That backed her up all the way to the back of the field. She circled the field and came running. That was the race of her life, I thought, far and away her best race."

Finlandia hasn't been slacking, either. She won the Yaddo Handicap at Saratoga, the most recent stakes for New York-bred filly and mare turf runners. She followed that with a neck loss in a second-level open allowance at Belmont.

Rahys' Appeal is part of an entry, but not with stablemate Finlandia. She is coupled with His Beauty as an ownership entry for Gallaghers Stud. His Beauty, trained by Howie Tesher, has one statebred allowance win in four starts this year.

Sabellina and Elisa's Energy, the second- and third-place finishers in the Yaddo, are back for another shot at Finlandia.

Sabellina has run in three open stakes since the Yaddo with her best finishes a pair of fifths in Grade 3 handicaps: the Glens Falls at Saratoga and Belmont's Noble Damsel Breeders' Cup.

In the Yaddo, Elisa's Energy broke in the air and was forced to steady before rallying to miss by only 1 1/2 lengths.

Kate Winslet, a winner of a division of last year's Yaddo, returns from a layoff for trainer Rick Violette. She was eased in her last start, the Grade 3 Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park on April 1.

Completing the field are Cayuga's Waters, Shady Lane, Lady Bi Bi, Puzzle, Nurse Culkin, and Half Heaven.

Three wound up on the also-eligible list: Stag Dancer, Classic Marilyn, and Factual Number.

- additional reporting by David Grening