04/23/2008 11:00PM

Criminologist has Grade 1 goals ahead


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Criminologist closed out last year on a roll, sweeping her final four races, including a pair of Grade 3 stakes.

It was the kind of finish that had everyone involved eagerly awaiting her new campaign.

"We're looking forward to this season," trainer Shug McGaughey said by phone from Keeneland. "We'll see how she does on Saturday. Obviously we'd like to win a Grade 1 with her down the road."

Criminologist makes her first stakes appearance of the campaign Saturday, facing four rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Aqueduct.

The gray 5-year-old should be primed and ready following a solid prep in her season debut, an allowance race at Keeneland on April 6. Criminologist finished second, closing too late and missing by a half-length to Sharp Susan in the one-mile race.

"She had a good race here at Keeneland with a little trouble down on the inside," McGaughey said. "The winner shook loose and we just missed. She came out of it fine.

"I just thought the Beaugay going a mile and a sixteenth might be a better spot rather than the race over at Churchill going a mile," McGaughey added, referring to the $150,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Criminologist had only modest success in her first two racing seasons. Everything changed last year when McGaughey shifted her to the grass.

"She's been running good ever since," McGaughey said.

John Velazquez has the return call.

Sweet Ransom concluded her 2007 campaign on a positive note by finishing in a dead heat for second, only a neck behind the winner, Rutherienne, in the blanket finish of the Grade 3 Frances A. Genter Stakes at Calder.

The 4-year-old Sweet Ransom makes her season debut with Edgar Prado aboard for trainer Bill Mott.

All Is Vanity and Just Little fit on class, with both having captured group stakes in France.

All Is Vanity tuned up for this spot with an allowance win at Gulfstream Park in her U.S. debut on March 14. Alan Garcia rides for trainer Christophe Clement.

Just Little was fourth in that same Gulfstream race, her first for trainer Todd Pletcher. Garrett Gomez gets the mount.

At 7, Factual Contender is the veteran in the field. She is 10 for 36, with most of those wins coming in New York-bred races.