02/23/2006 12:00AM

India Halo fine turning back

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Bohemian Lady, winning the Affectionately, tries to even the score with India Halo in Saturday's Rare Treat.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Bohemian Lady had little more than a paid workout when she waltzed to a seven-length victory in last month's Affectionately Handicap.

Saturday, she figures to have a tougher time when she runs back in the $65,000 Rare Treat Handicap at 1 1/8 miles over Aqueduct's inner track. In addition to facing probable pace pressure from Amazing Buy, will once again square off with India Halo, who was able to run down Bohemian Lady in the Ladies Handicap in December.

Granted, the Ladies was run at 1 1/4 miles, and marathon distances appear to be India Halo's hole card. But has run well at 1 1/8 miles, as illustrated by a two-length loss in an overnight stakes over Aqueduct's main track in November that is better than it looks at first glance.

First, India Halo was racing after having gone through the auction ring in Kentucky, where she failed to meet her reserve. Owner Howard Nolan put her back in training and sent her to trainer James Ferraro for the winter. India Halo had only one work in six weeks leading up to the overnight stakes, the Real Prize Stakes, and was caught four wide around both turns in the race.

After rebounding with her head victory over Bohemian Lady in the Ladies Handicap, India Halo came back on two weeks' rest and raced against males, finishing second of nine in the Gallant Fox Handicap at 1 5/8 miles.

Though India Halo enters the Rare Treat off an eight-week layoff, she shows four workouts leading up to the race, including a sharp half-mile move in 47.94 seconds on Sunday.

"I think she's sharper now," Ferraro said. "She's had a couple of good works where she's shown some speed."

Ferraro doesn't see the turn back in distance as a major issue for India Halo. "Judging by her last two races, I don't think it's going to make much of a difference," Ferraro said. "She'll do anything the jock wants her to do."

scratched out of Thursday's Flip's Pleasure Stakes to run in the Rare Treat. While nine furlongs may be stretching Amazing Buy, her early speed could pose a problem for Bohemian Lady, who at 121 pounds is conceding four to seven pounds to the rest of the field.

"The greatest factor will be the pace of the race, what type of early fractions we carve out and at what point she's able to gain control of the race," said Seth Benzel, the assistant to Todd Pletcher, trainer of Bohemian Lady.