01/19/2006 12:00AM

G P Fleet's best too good for foes


NEW YORK - With last weekend a three-day weekend at most tracks in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and with next Saturday being Sunshine Millions Day, this weekend's stakes schedule is light by comparison. The main events Saturday are the $200,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap at Louisiana Downs, and the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita. At Gulfstream Park, the headliner is the $100,000 First Lady Handicap, while in New York, the feature is the $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap.

Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap

Although there aren't any true turf stars in this race, it is a very competitive contest. Onthedeanslist has won four of his last six starts, including the local prep for this event last out. Fort Prado was up against it pacewise when a close second to Onthedeanslist most recently as the odds-on favorite. And Chinese Dragon is just a neck away from being a perfect 6 for 6 in this country.

And yet, I'm looking to beat all of them with G P Fleet, whose best race is better than what any of his opponents have shown recently. G P Fleet beat what I think was a stronger field than this when he won this race at Fair Grounds last year, and in the middle of his 2005 campaign, he narrowly missed in a turf stakes at Churchill Downs to Senor Swinger, who was something of a freak on the grass at Churchill. G P Fleet's last start came in Churchill's River City Handicap in late November, and his nose defeat after disputing slow fractions was, at least in terms of Beyer Speed Figures, on a par with his better performances.

One of the more attractive things about G P Fleet is he can adapt to any pace scenario. On Saturday, I expect him to be close and prompt a pace set by Onthedeanslist, and prove the better animal in the stretch.

Aqueduct Handicap

Happy Hunting's Beyer Figures are not as strong as those often earned by his chief opponents in this race, such as Evening Attire, Colita, and Mr. Whitestone. But even though I am a big believer in the "power of the figs," I like Happy Hunting anyway.

For one, Happy Hunting, who is looking for his fourth straight victory Saturday, is a regally bred but lightly raced 5-year-old, so he still has more room for advancement. And perhaps one reason why Happy Hunting's Beyers through his three-race win streak fell short of spectacular is that in the course of winning each of those races decisively, he disputed very strong early paces.

While Happy Hunting might get an early challenge from Sinister G, he is still the controlling speed here. And, I think he's going to find slower fractions than he has encountered ever before, which may lead to a Beyer breakthrough. I also like the intent shown by the fact that Happy Hunting was shipped back up from Gulfstream for this race.

First Lady Handicap

In New York, Smokey Glacken would be heavily favored over Lilah, and would likely beat Lilah. But this race is at Gulfstream. Smokey Glacken still figures to be bet over Lilah on Saturday, but this is Lilah's favorite track. In fact, she was kept in training into her ninth year for the express purpose of running at Gulfstream this winter. I think this plan for Lilah will pay dividends with a win in this spot.

Lilah is in sharp form, winning a stakes at Aqueduct two starts back and finishing third in another at Calder last time out. She will appreciate the cut back in distance here to six furlongs, and as for her affinity for Gulfstream, get a load of her three bullet workouts over the track this month. I'm not big on workout times; I believe the workout pattern is more important. But Lilah's recent works do leap off the page, and bode well for a big effort.


Aqueduct: Aqueduct Handicap
3 and up, 1 1/16 miles

Approximate post: Eastern-3:48 p.m., Central-2:48 p.m., Mountain-1:48 p.m., Pacific-12:48 p.m.; Ozone Park, N. Y., forecast: Chance of rain, 54¦

1Happy Hunting8894844-1
3Evening Attire9498853-1
4Broad Acres81907120-1
5Mr. Whitestone101861007-2
6Spite the Devil76528910-1
7Sinister G90643815-1

Odds by Jim Kachulis

Louisiana Downs: Fair Grounds B.C. Handicap
4 and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf

Approximate post: E-4:32 p.m., C-3:32 p.m., M-2:32 p.m., P-1:32 p.m.; Bossier City, La., forecast: Sunny, 63¦

2Chinese Dragon8981923-1
3Gallo Del Bar74978910-1
4Sampson's Son9494948-1
5G P Fleet9987946-1
6Fort Prado9296975-2
7Ole Faunty9090998-1

Track morning line odds

Gulfstream Park: First Lady Handicap
Fillies and mares, 3 and up, 6 furlongs

Approximate post: E-4:44 p.m., C-3:44 p.m., M-2:44 p.m., P-1:44 p.m.; Hallandale Beach, Fl., forecast: Slight chance of showers, 80¦

2Toll Taker79418330-1
4So Much More64858230-1
5Ender's Sister74108708-1
6Trickle of Gold641001073-1
8Smokey Glacken95991025-2

Odds by Dan Illman