02/15/2007 12:00AM

Dutrow saddles three in Fritchie


LAUREL, Md. - If racing is a game of numbers, then Tony Dutrow would seem to have an edge Saturday. Dutrow trains three of the eight starters in the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie Breeders' Cup Handicap, the first of two Grade 2 stakes to be run this holiday weekend at Laurel Park.

Dutrow will start Oprah Winney, Smart and Fancy, and Carmandia, and all stand a decent chance in the seven-furlong Fritchie.

"They're all on top of their game," said Chip Dutrow, an assistant to his brothers Tony and Richard.

Horseplayers might have slight leanings toward Oprah Winney, who narrowly held on to beat Smart and Fancy when they met in the six-furlong Interborough Handicap Jan. 1 at their home track, Aqueduct.

Oprah Winney, said Chip Dutrow, "definitely wants to be out front," while Smart and Fancy "needs to stalk."

"The seven-eighths ought to be better for her Saturday," he said.

Oprah Winney (post 1) will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, while Laurel's leading jockey, Jeremy Rose, has the mount on Smart and Fancy (post 6). Carmandia (post 8) will be ridden by Mike Luzzi, a onetime Maryland riding star who moved years ago to New York.

If Dutrow comes up empty, there are two other logical candidates: Silmaril (post 2), a local standout, and Leah's Secret (post 7), who shipped in Wednesday from Florida.

Silmaril has a fondness for Laurel, having won 7 of her 12 starts there, and trainer Chris Grove said the 6-year-old mare is primed for another big race. From her last four races, Silmaril has sandwiched three wins, all at Laurel, around a defeat in the Falls City in November in Kentucky.

Leah's Secret shipped from Kentucky and won the Anne Arundel at Laurel on Nov. 25, but has not raced since.

"She's really trained great up to this," said trainer Helen Pitts.

The rest of the field is Dixie Marrone (post 3), Plata (post 4), and Great Intentions (post 5).

The Fritchie, which goes as the ninth of 10 Saturday races, will be followed by the $115,000 John B. Campbell BC Handicap. Both races are part of the Magna 5 national wager.