02/12/2004 12:00AM

Golden Damsel heads Contessa's weekend


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - With horses in each of the three stakes run at Aqueduct this holiday weekend, trainer Gary Contessa won't have much time to kick back.

Wild Cee will try to get the weekend off to a good start for Contessa in Saturday's $75,000-added Dearly Precious. On Sunday, in the $75,000-added Hollie Hughes Handicap, Contessa will run Unswept. On Presidents' Day, Contessa will saddle the uncoupled entry of Golden Damsel and Dancen in the Sun in the $75,000-added Rare Treat Handicap.

Golden Damsel looks like Contessa's strongest horse this weekend. A 4-year-old filly, Golden Damsel is coming off a second-place finish behind Austin's Mom, the likely Rare Treat favorite, in the Grade 3 Affectionately on Jan. 17. Golden Damsel's stablemate Dancen in the Sun won an allowance race here Jan. 30.

"Golden Damsel is training fantastic, and I think Dancen in the Sun's last race sets her up beautifully for two turns," Contessa said.

It's a miracle, Contessa says, that Unswept is still able to compete after his nasty encounter with a rusty nail last year. Contessa said Unswept, a stakes-placed runner, stepped on a six-inch nail that penetrated his hoof and exited through his pastern bone on the other side of his leg.

"It was just amazing that it didn't hit anything major in the leg," said Contessa. "He lived at the clinic for a month and a half with an [intravenous tube] in him."

Unswept was sidelined from April to November and won his second start off the layoff Dec. 21. Contessa said he hopes Unswept can catch a track with a little moisture in it.

"He doesn't care for a dry, sandy inner track," Contessa said. "But I do believe he is up to the task given his track, although it will be hard to beat Bossanova."

Contessa decided to enter New York-bred maiden winner Wild Cee in the Dearly Precious at the last minute when it appeared only six horses would be entered in the race. The race ended up closing with seven entries.

"There's no downside to getting some open black type," Contessa said. "The races will get tougher as the year goes on. If it was a big field, we wouldn't be in there."

Servis happy with family tie

Randaroo's 7 1/4-length win in last Sunday's Grade 3 Shirley Jones Handicap at Gulfstream Park delighted Jason Servis, who trains Unleashedthedragon, Randaroo's half-brother.

Randaroo, who is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for owner Joe Allen, has won four of her last five starts in graded stakes. She was bred by one of Servis's owners, Dennis Drazin, who sold Randaroo as a yearling for $75,000 but still owns her dam, Validated, and Unleashedthedragon. Drazin also owns Randaroo's 2-year-old half-brother by Silver Charm who will arrive in Servis's barn this spring.

Unleashedthedragon, a 3-year-old son of Belong to Me, is about seven weeks away from making his first start. Unleashedthedragon recently had some down time because of a quarter crack, but he is now back in training at Belmont Park.

"This is a really fast horse," Servis said. "Last year when I worked him out of the gate, he was eight or 10 lengths in front right after he broke. When he runs, I think maidens will have a tough time beating him."

Wild Horses at winning level

Wild Horses, who ran in the 2002 Kentucky Derby, has found his niche over the inner track.

Now 5, Wild Horses is a top contender in Saturday's $35,000 starter handicap at 1 1/4 miles. He won back-to-back starts at Aqueduct in January. Wild Horses won a $15,000 claimer by 3 1/2 lengths on Jan. 11 in his first start in a claiming race. Two weeks later, Wild Horses won a starter handicap at 1 5/8 miles by a nose.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Wild Horses was second in the 2002 Arkansas Derby and Rushaway Stakes before finishing last in the Kentucky Derby.

Last year, Wild Horses made seven starts and won one allowance race. After being eased in a race at Monmouth Park in July, Pletcher gave the horse a freshening. He finished eighth in an allowance in his first race back in December.

"The allowance races were out of his league, but he fits perfectly in these starter races," said Seth Benzel, Pletcher's assistant. "He has strung together two nice races."

* A 10-race card will be offered on Saturday, plus a simulcast of the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap from Laurel Park following Aqueduct's last race.

* Aqueduct will be open on Monday for Presidents' Day and dark on Tuesday and Wednesday. Entries for Monday will close on Saturday. Entries for next Thursday's card will be taken on Monday.