03/10/2010 12:00AM

Captivating Cathy the one to catch

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There is no denying that Captivating Cathy's form is ugly entering Friday's second-level optional $35,000 claiming feature at Aqueduct. But there is also no denying her appearance as the lone speed in a short field over what could be a wet surface that she has proven to relish.

Captivating Cathy, a 5-year-old daughter of Forest Wildcat, has not been out since last Oct. 3 when she finished last in the Proud Puppy Handicap at Finger Lakes. Before that she finished second-to-last in a Suffolk Downs allowance after running last in a turf sprint stakes at Saratoga.

Trainer Karl Grusmark said that Captivating Cathy had "some physical issues'' following her Oct. 3 race and she was given ample time off to get over them. She shows a steady work tab, including a best-of-41 half-mile drill in 46.80 seconds from the gate over Belmont's training track on Feb. 21.

"I look for her to run a decent race on Friday,'' Grusmark said. "She has had a lot to overcome.''

With no other confirmed speed horses in the five-horse field, Captivating Cathy - who is being offered for the optional claiming tag - could shake free under Channing Hill. She is also 2 for 6 over a wet track and rain is in the forecast.

"Rain wouldn't disappoint me," Grusmark said. "She's run a couple of really good races in the mud. She's very quick for three-eighths and a half-mile; I hope she can get lucky and carry it a little further on Friday.''

If she can't, Kissa Melissa and Unicorn Girl look to be the ones best equipped to pick up the pieces.

Unicorn Girl was third when entered for $35,000 last time out, but trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said he felt she was too close to the pace and would prefer an off-the-pace trip under C.C. Lopez on Friday.

w In race 8, Magic Tiger looks to make it three straight for trainer Steve Asmussen when he is offered for the $75,000 optional claiming tag in a race that is also open to first-level allowance horses. Magic Tiger is 3 for 3 at six furlongs, including two victories over the inner track.

Magnification, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Magic Tiger, gets a switch to this meet's leading apprentice rider, Angel Serpa, for trainer David Duggan.

"We're putting on the bug boy to hopefully be the equalizer,'' Duggan said. "If he improves two lengths he's right there.''