06/18/2002 11:00PM

Dupps decides to aim high


ELMONT, N.Y. - Too Scarlet, a winner of 7 of 9 starts, tackles graded company for the first time in her career in Saturday's $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park.

The Grade 1 Phipps, formerly the Hempstead, hasn't come up too tough and Too Scarlet's trainer, Kristina Dupps, is hoping that works in her filly's favor.

Too Scarlet, a New York-bred, also was nominated to Sunday's $75,000-added Mount Vernon, a restricted grass race. Dupps, who will be saddling her first Grade 1 starter in the Phipps, said she didn't want Too Scarlet to make her turf debut over a course that may have moisture in it.

Dupps said another reason the Phipps is preferable to the Mount Vernon is because Too Scarlet is 4 for 4 on Belmont's main track.

"I think [the Phipps] is a very good opportunity for this filly right now," Dupps said Wednesday morning outside her Belmont Park barn. "I don't know how good she is because every time she gets to the front she eases up. I don't think we have reached the bottom of her or seen her true potential."

Too Scarlet, a daughter of 1993 Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair, has had no trouble handling the company she has met in open and restricted allowance races. On several occasions, Too Scarlet has won by open lengths, including a 10 1/4-length romp at Belmont last year.

Too Scarlet, a 4-year-old owned by Charles Hallas, was quite impressive when she slipped through on the rail at the top of the stretch to win the WNBC Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths on the Belmont Stakes undercard. The mile WNBC was Too Scarlet's first start in five months and, luckily, Dupps's filly was able to avoid the accident in the stretch run, involving Imadeed and Pleasant County.

Dupps is not underestimating the task at hand in the 1 1/16-mile Phipps, where Too Scarlet will face several graded stakes winners while trying to win her first race beyond a mile.

"She's never been in a [tough situation] yet," Dupps said. "These fillies should give her a battle down the stretch and we may come out of this with our tail between our legs. We'll see what happens."

Jean-Luc Samyn has the Phipps assignment aboard Too Scarlet.

The other fillies and mares expected are Raging Fever, Mystic Lady, Shiny Band, Critical Eye, Two Item Limit, and Happily Unbridled.

Spring Meadow cruises in allowance

Spring Meadow ran like a 1-10 shot should and won Wednesday's feature by three lengths over three rivals.

Spring Meadow, who won the Stonerside Stakes at Lone Star Park in her last start, was dominant throughout the stretch run. Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Spring Meadow ($2.30) covered the six furlongs in 1:09.69 over a fast track.

Before the race, trainer Bob Hess Jr. said Spring Meadow needed to win the allowance race before he considered bigger races down the road for the 3-year-old filly.

Some logical Grade 1 spots for Hess, who has a division in New York this summer, to consider are the Prioress on July 6 at Belmont and the Test on July 26 at Saratoga.

Mother Goose suddenly popular

The defection of Take Charge Lady from the $250,000 Mother Goose on June 29 likely will swell the size of the field in the coming days.

Before news spread that Take Charge Lady will skip the Grade 1 Mother Goose, the racing office had only five other horses under consideration: Bella Bellucci, Belterra, Chamrousse, Dust Me Off, and Nonsuch Bay.

Dust Me Off worked five furlongs in 1:04.41 Wednesday over Belmont's training track.

* Bailey inched away to a two-win lead in the heated jockeys' race by winning with his two mounts on Wednesday for his 29th win at the meet. John Velazquez, who didn't ride a winner on the program, is second with 27. Bailey has had 90 mounts at the meet, compared to Velazquez's 153.