08/13/2002 11:00PM

Fan club on 'Shopping' spree

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - On Friday, trainer Ken Nesky might feel a bit more pressure than he normally would when saddling a major contender in a stakes.

Nesky will send out Shopping for Love, the likely favorite in the $75,000-added Yaddo Handicap, a New York-bred grass race for fillies and mares. Shopping for Love's owners, Donald George and Dennis D'Arcangelo, live in nearby North Adams, Mass., and have chartered a bus for 55 of their friends to come to Saratoga to cheer on their mare.

"I'm sure you won't miss them - they have made up T-shirts," Nesky said with a wry smile on the backstretch Wednesday morning.

Shopping for Love's fan club has an excellent chance of posing in the winner's circle after the 1 1/8-mile Yaddo, which drew 12 runners and two also-eligibles. Indy Glory is main-track only.

Shopping for Love, a 5-year-old, is coming off a strong effort in a division of the restricted Mount Vernon, a race she won by four lengths on June 23 at Belmont.

Nesky said the time between starts has the mare on her toes, which is evidenced by a sharp work at Belmont on Aug. 9.

"She worked three-quarters in 1:11 on the training track," Nesky said. "It was a little fast, but it wasn't handily, she did it breezing. She was trying to run down a horse in front of her."

Shopping for Love will be ridden by the meet's leading jockey, Jerry Bailey, and carry 122 pounds as the co-highweight with Rhum. Shopping for Love, who drew the rail, has tactical speed.

The biggest threats to Shopping for Love are Eventail, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, and Rhum, a half-sister to this year's Arkansas Derby winner, Private Emblem.

Eventail, trained by Richard Schosberg, won the faster division of the Mount Vernon by 3 1/4 lengths. Edgar Prado has the mount on Eventail, who drew post 4.

Rhum finished sixth in last year's Yaddo, but her trainer, John Servis, believes his mare is better equipped to get the job done this time.

"She's a better horse now," said Servis of Rhum, who has a win and two seconds in open stakes this year.

Rhum is coming off a second-place finish in a marathon turf stakes at Delaware Park.

The lightly raced Wake Up Kiss is 3 for 3 on the turf, including a win here last year and one in an Aqueduct stakes. She hasn't raced since November, but is credited with some sharp works in recent weeks.

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