04/27/2005 12:00AM

A good Withers effort may send Scrappy T to Preakness start


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Scrappy T was the main reason the Maryland-based trainer Robert Bailes opted to open up a New York string over the winter. Now, he's hoping Scrappy T can take him back to Maryland for that state's biggest race next month.

Bailes said should Scrappy T run well in Saturday's Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, he could earn himself a berth in the Preakness Stakes on May 21 at Pimlico.

"If he runs big on Saturday, that's what we're going to point towards,'' Bailes said.

Scrappy T, a son of Fit to Fight, has had a productive six months in New York. In 5 starts here, Scrappy T had a win, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds. His victory came in the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan. 15 before his game third in the Whirlaway. In his most recent start, he finished third in the Wood Memorial, 18 1/4 lengths behind Bellamy Road and three-quarters of a length behind Survivalist.

Rafael Bejarano, who rode Scrappy T in the Wood, said the saddle slipped on him down the backside.

"Rafael told me at the five-eighths pole the saddle got to wobbling and he couldn't ride him,'' Bailes said. "Instead of 18 lengths maybe we would've got beat 10 or 11 lengths, who knows? I believe it cost us second. By no means were we going to beat the winner.''

Bejarano will be in Kentucky this weekend so Norberto Arroyo Jr. has picked up the mount on Scrappy T for the Withers.

Scrappy T has worked just once since the Wood, an easy half-mile in 49.76 seconds on April 19. Because of a muddy track at Belmont, Bailes pushed back a scheduled blowout for Scrappy T from Wednesday to Thursday.

Scrappy T is expected to face six rivals in the Withers. The others are B. B. Best, Park Avenue Ball, Proud Accolade, Smokescreen, Survivalist, and War Plan.

Turner has two for Beaugay

Trainer Billy Turner is planning to start both Finery and Fortunate Damsel in Saturday's $100,000 Beaugay Handicap provided the Grade 3 race remains on turf. It would be the seasonal debut for both mares.

Finery, a 5-year-old daughter of Lear Fan, won the Grade 3 Athenia Handicap over this course last Oct. 31. Following that, she finished sixth, beaten seven lengths after a wide trip, in the Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Turner said that Finery has been in New York for about one month after wintering in South Carolina. Turner was very impressed with the job Sheila Maloney did getting Finery ready and has been pleased with the way Finery has breezed at Belmont.

"They certainly did the right thing down there,'' Turner said.

Fortunate Damsel would be making her first start for Turner after racing for Phil Johnson and then Heriberto Cedano last year. Fortunate Damsel gave Johnson his last stakes winner before his death in August when she won the Fieldy Stakes at Belmont. She gave Cedano his first career win taking the Pebbles Stakes last Oct. 11. She finished her campaign by running seventh in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap on dirt.

Turner said that Fortunate Damsel wintered in Ocala, Fla., and has been in his care since March 1. She has shown a tendency to run well fresh.

"She's done everything right, she's a very nice filly,'' Turner said.

Others pointing to the Beaugay, scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, are Changing World, Fast Cookie, Sauvage, With Patience, Natalie Beach, Lady Libby, and Savage Beauty.

Artie Schiller may go to Dixie

Artie Schiller, winner of the Maker's Mark Mile in his seasonal debut, may make his next start in the Dixie Handicap at Pimlico on Preakness Day, May 21, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. Artie Schiller won the Woodlawn Stakes last year at Pimlico on Preakness Day,

Jerkens did not completely rule out running in the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, but said that was doubtful.

Tuesday, Artie Schiller worked four furlongs in 49.25 seconds over the Belmont training track.

"He came out of the race very well,'' said trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who with two more wins on Wednesday is now 10 for 23 at the Aqueduct spring meet.

Can Buck Mountain repeat?

Buck Mountain relished the slop last out, winning an entry-level allowance race by 9 1/4 lengths on April 2. The weather forecast is such that the main track may be sloppy again when Buck Mountain meets tougher foes in a second-level allowance race that serves as Friday's feature.

Buck Mountain is 2 for 3 on an off track and may get the contested pace she prefers with Lasik, Swinging, and Game Card in the field.

Game Card cuts back to seven furlongs after finishing second behind Strategy in a nine-furlong allowance race on April 17. Game Card won her maiden over a muddy main track last April, albeit against claiming competition. She will be coupled with King's Empress, who comes off an entry-level allowance win on April 10.

Trainer Shug McGaughey is 6 for 12 at this meet and brings the royally bred Swinging back off a seven-month layoff. A daughter of Wild Again out of the mare Pennant Champion, Swinging is certainly bred to handle an off track. McGaughey adds blinkers to Swinging's equipment for the first time.

Six may challenge Funny Cide

Stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes said Wednesday that Funny Cide may have as many as six challengers when he makes his seasonal debut in Sunday's $75,000 Kingston Handicap.

Byrnes lists Spite the Devil, Rogue Agent, Chowders First, Yankee Mon, and Legislature as definite with Mr. Determined as possible.

Funny Cide was assigned high weight of 127 pounds, eight pounds more than second highweight Spite the Devil and 12 more than Legislature.