02/21/2009 1:00AM

Distance the key to Rare Treat


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The seven fillies and mares entered in Saturday's $65,000 Rare Treat Stakes have combined to win 32 of 140 starts. But none of the seven has won at the Rare Treat distance of 1 1/8 miles from a total of three starts.

Thus, figuring out who is best-suited to get the nine furlongs is the key to landing on the winner. The race is likely to scratch down to six as Successful Sarah was expected to run in a starter handicap on Friday.

Weathered, whose seven wins is tops in the field, will likely go off favored despite having never run at 1 1/8 miles. But trainer Karl Grusmark noted that his filly's two races at 1o1/16 miles were solid efforts. First, she won the Susan's Girl at that distance in June and then she finished fifth behind Proud Spell in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks, a race in which Weathered "had a rough trip," according to Grusmark.

"She just trains like a horse that'll run all day," he said. "She gallops really strong. I'm expecting and hoping she'll run well at the distance."

Weathered has been a beaten favorite in her last two starts. In the You'd Be Surprised Stakes, she was caught at the wire by Are We Dreamin and lost by a nose. In the Plankton, she chased a hot early pace - the second quarter went in 22.69 seconds - and she backed up to third.

Weathered has worked three times since her last start, and Grusmark said, "each work was better than the work before." Weathered will break from post 6 under Mike Luzzi.

Weathered will likely be stalking Rap Tale, who breaks from the rail and who showed speed winning an allowance race at Philadelphia Park last out.

Aristo steps out of New York-bred competition into an open company stakes, but in her lone start at 1 1/8 miles, she finished second in the Saratoga Dew Stakes last summer at Saratoga.

"We felt that represented a genuine two-turn race," said trainer Tom Bush, who has had Aristo for only her last two starts. "We don't see a mile and an eighth in the winter hardly ever. It's a huge step up from a two-other-than, but we're real pleased with the way the filly is doing."

Point Me to It, a supplement to this race, makes her first start since finishing second in the 1 1/8-mile Montauk Handicap last Nov. 30. Vladimira and Bourbon Maid round out the field.

The Rare Treat will go as race 3 and will not be part of the late pick four, which has a $250,000 guaranteed pool.