03/27/2003 12:00AM

Home field edge to 'Hollow'

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - An early season matchup between two of the best sprinting fillies in New York is on tap Saturday at Aqueduct when Carson Hollow meets Raging Fever in the Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap.

With a race under her belt and competing at the track over which she regularly trains, Carson Hollow would appear to hold the advantage in this battle of Grade 1 winners. Four other fillies and mares were entered in the seven-furlong race.

Carson Hollow, who won the Grade 1 Prioress last year at Belmont, comes off a second-place finish to Xtra Heat in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Feb. 22. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. felt Carson Hollow was compromised by her trip that day, though losing to Xtra Heat, the 3-year-old filly champion of 2001, is certainly no disgrace.

"She slipped really bad coming out of the gate," said Dutrow, who had to rely on jockey Kent Desormeaux's analysis because fog prevented him from seeing much of the race. Desormeaux "took our filly five or six wide, then a few jumps after that she was back down on the rail."

Dutrow said Carson Hollow came out of the race in good shape and has shown eagerness to return to action.

"She's just a little bit more aggressive," Dutrow said. "She's really looking for a race. She can't wait to get over there."

Carson Hollow will break from post 4 under jockey Mike Luzzi and is the 120-pound highweight. Dutrow expects Carson Hollow to be on the lead, forcing the hand of Raging Fever's connections.

"They're going to have make some type of movement toward us earlier than they want to," Dutrow said.

Raging Fever, who is a three-time Grade 1 winner and the defending champion of this race, makes her first start since last October. She may be compromised, having drawn the rail. Raging Fever, 10 for 19 overall, is only 1 for 4 when breaking from the rail. Aaron Gryder will ride.

Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, but the chance of an off track shouldn't severely affect either Carson Hollow or Raging Fever. Both mares are two-time winners on wet tracks.

Saskya and Bonefide Reason are the two with an upset chance. Saskya is coming off a victory in the Safely Kept Stakes and figures to lay just off the pace under Shaun Bridgmohan. She will tote 112 pounds.

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