01/07/2006 1:00AM

Celestial Legend takes fifth straight


In more ways than one, there was simply no competition for Celestial Legend in the $75,000 Marshua Stakes at Laurel Park on Saturday.

Three scratches left only three rivals to face Celestial Legend in the 5 1/2-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and she remained unbeaten in five starts by coasting to a 12-length victory.

It was the third consecutive stakes, all sprints, for Celestial Legend ($2.40), who was ridden by Erick Rodriguez for trainer Dale Capuano and owners David Menard and Richard Shultz. She was timed in 1:04.06 after setting uncontested fractions of 22.70 and 46.04 seconds.

Flirt for Fame rallied to be second, six lengths in front of her uncoupled stablemate, Ten Halos, who tired after chasing Celestial Legend early.

Capuano said the Grade 3 Miss Preakness, held the day before the Preakness at Pimlico, is a long-range goal for Celestial Legend.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do next. We will talk about it and try to map out a plan," Capuano said. "Obviously at some point, we would like to get her some graded stakes black type. In the back of my mind, the Miss Preakness is a race we would look at.

"At this point, she's the best 3-year-old filly I've ever had," Capuano added. "Prized Stamp and Kimbralata were both talented runners in my barn but Celestial Legend has shown more early ability."

Capuano earned his first graded stakes victory when Prized Stamp won the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap in 2001 at 17-1. Kimbralata won three stakes races in Maryland that same year.