05/17/2005 11:00PM

Home of the Free field up in the air

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The field for Friday's Home of the Free Stakes, a $60,000 overnight race restricted to 3-year-olds who have not won a stakes on turf, was in flux at entry time. Four of the nine entered for turf, including the probable first two betting choices, English Channel and Wallstreet Scandal, were cross-entered in the $100,000 Woodlawn Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.

, who drew the two outside posts in the Home of the Free (assuming main-track-only War Plan is scratched), also cross-entered in the Woodlawn, which drew a field of 10. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles.

The Home of the Free is essentially a second-level allowance race, perhaps not even that strong once you get past English Channel and Wallstreet Scandal. Qualified Opinion, part of the Rick Violette-trained entry with Wallstreet Scandal, is a New York-bred eligible for an entry-level allowance against open company; Tinseltown is coming off a maiden win at Aqueduct; and Prince Rahy, though beaten just one length in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes, remains eligible for first-level conditions.

Also entered are two making their turf debuts: Touched by Madness, a Philadelphia Park shipper, and Byanosejoe, third in the Federico Tesio last out.

Should they meet Friday, the Todd Pletcher-trained English Channel, 2 for 3 lifetime, may be a slight favorite over Wallstreet Scandal, depending on how much emphasis bettors place on Wallstreet Scandal being eased in the Florida Derby.

"He got the thumps," explained Violette, referring to a bad reaction to Lasix. "When they came out of the gate, Javier [Castellano] said it was like he had no legs."

has shown considerable promise in both his starts on grass - a rallying second in the Pilgrim Stakes and a hand-ridden allowance triumph at Gulfstream in which he blew by the leaders with a five-wide sweep turning for home.

"We might be the horse to beat in both spots," said Violette, who was weighing his options Wednesday afternoon. "I think he can be a serious, serious horse on the grass."

Forest Danger, 'Society' work

Carter Handicap winner Forest Danger and Alabama winner Society Selection each worked sharply at five furlongs over the main track Wednesday.

Forest Danger, headed for a showdown with Ghostzapper in the May 30 Met Mile, breezed in 58.12 seconds, easily the fastest of 33 workouts at the distance.

"He worked pretty solid here this morning," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Everything's on schedule."

Society Selection, idle since suffering a leg injury when she stumbled at the start of the Feb. 19 Shirley Jones Handicap, clocked the second-fastest time, 58.76, in preparation for Saturday's Shuvee Handicap.

"It's not going to be easy," said trainer Allen Jerkens. "I just hope she runs well."

Tani Maru takes Lite the Fuse

Tani Maru, at $43.80 the longest price in a field of six, stalked Magoo's Magic and odds-on Around the Cape three wide on the turn, then outfinished 10-1 shot Tashdeed to win Wednesday's Lite the Fuse, an overnight stakes for non-stakes-winning 3-year-olds.

Tani Maru, trained by Tom Bush, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.25, and earned $36,570 for his third victory.

Silver Train finished well for third after lacking room at the top of the stretch, followed by Magoo's Magic, Around the Cape, and Volatility.