03/23/2005 12:00AM

Five expected to gun after Cativa

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Richard Dutrow Jr. didn't view it as a big upset when Cativa won at 5-1 in last month's Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel while heavy favorite Bear Fan finished off the board.

Bear Fan was wheeling back in three weeks after running poorly in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park. Cativa was riding a three-race winning streak, albeit against lesser company.

"I kind of didn't like the favorite in the race, and I felt our filly could beat the rest of them if we ran our race," Dutrow said.

Cativa will return to the races in Saturday's $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct. She will go from hunter to hunted in a field that is coming up somewhat light for a Grade 2 race. Only Bank Audit, Sensibly Chic, Travelator, Lovethat-legend, and Miss Park Place are expected to face Cativa in the seven-furlong race.

"Judging by who's going in there, I got to feel the same way about our chances," Dutrow said. "I feel we'll be the favorite, and if we run our race we should win. She's doing good."

Overall, Cativa has won 10 of 18 starts, including 8 of her last 10 dating back to Nov. 1, 2003. Edgar Prado will ride Cativa, who was assigned high weight of 119 pounds.

Trainer Lisa Lewis said Lovethatlegend would not run on an off track, a real possibility given the weather forecast.

Bailes happy to wait

Trainer Robert Bailes didn't know how prophetic his words be earlier this month. When discussing his decision to skip the Gotham Stakes with Scrappy T, he said, "We'll let the rest of the boys beat themselves up a little bit, and we'll be waiting for them in the Wood."

After watching one horse get hit in the face with a whip and others get bumped around, Bailes was quite content in his decision to keep Scrappy T, the Count Fleet Stakes winner, out of the Gotham to await the Wood. Bailes reasoned that his horse needed a freshening after running seven times from Sept. 11 to Feb. 12.

"He hasn't had a break since the time I started running him," Bailes said. "He's doing real good. Everything's going the way it's supposed to."

Bailes said Scrappy T, who finished third in the Whirlaway, would breeze Sunday. Bailes said it is possible he would ship the horse to Aqueduct to work over the main track.

Bailes said that Scrappy T would "have to run real big in the Wood" to be considered for the Kentucky Derby. "We'll let him tell us whether he belongs or not," Bailes said. "If he runs big and he shows he deserves to go there, if we think we have a legitimate shot, we'll go for it."

Pedersen files appeal of DQ

Trainer Jennifer Pedersen on Wednesday officially filed an appeal of the disqualification of Pavo in Saturday's Gotham Stakes. Pavo, who finished second, was disqualified and placed fourth after jockey Alan Garcia's whip hit Naughty New Yorker in the face.

Garcia rode the last half-mile of the race without his feet in the stirrups. Pedersen said initially that she felt Galloping Grocer came in contact with Pavo down the backside, causing Garcia to lose his irons.

On Wednesday, Pedersen backed away from that claim somewhat. She is basing her appeal mostly on the fact that the whip incident happened so late in the race that it wouldn't have affected the outcome of the race. Also, Pedersen and owner Ernie Paragallo contend that Survivalist forced Naughty New Yorker to come in and be in position to be hit by the whip.

It is widely believed that a whip in the face is grounds for an automatic disqualification. That is not the case.

"We hit his nose at the wire," Paragallo said. "He wasn't going to beat him."

* Eriluis Vaz was suspended seven days by the stewards for careless riding. The ride in question occurred in Saturday's seventh race, when Vaz piloted longshot Sir Tyler T to a second-place finish. The stewards disqualified Sir Tyler T from second and placed him third for interference in deep stretch. Vaz has appealed the suspension.

* Hydrogen, a nose winner of the Stymie Handicap on March 5, worked an easy four furlongs in 51.22 seconds over the Belmont training track Wednesday. Hydrogen is being pointed to the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap on April 2.

* Aqueduct will be dark Sunday in observance of Easter. Entries for next Thursday's card, normally taken Sunday, will be taken Tuesday.