02/24/2005 12:00AM

Key player in Rare Treat on the fence


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Miss Fortunate could catch a lucky break in the $75,000 Rare Treat Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct.

are the co-highweights at 118 pounds in the field of six fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles. Friel's for Real, however, has also been entered in the $50,000 Maryland Racing Media Handicap at Laurel at the same distance on the same afternoon.

Ned Allard, Friel's for Real's trainer, wants to study the weather and the fields of the respective races before making a choice. A snowstorm was bearing down on the region Thursday afternoon as Allard contemplated his options.

"I haven't decided, but I hope to make the right decision after I look at the past performances and I see which track gets hit the worst," Allard said from his barn at Philadelphia Park.

Friel's for Real will be very tough in either spot as she looks to bounce back from a rare defeat.

Friel's for Real has won 9 of 17 career starts, including a very productive 2004 campaign in which she won 5 of 6 starts. She had won four straight in Maryland and New York before venturing to Santa Anita for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, where she finished fifth.

Miss Fortunate and the other four Rare Treat runners would clearly benefit if Friel's for Real winds up in Maryland.

Miss Fortunate, trained by Bill Mott, is a consistent sort with three straight in-the-money finishes. She most recently finished second by three-quarters of a length to Saintliness in the Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct. Her two prior races were third-place finishes in graded stakes: the Grade 3 the Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct and the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Rare Gift is next on the scale at 117. The winner of the Ladies Handicap by a widening six lengths, Rare Gift looks to rebound from a fifth-place finish at Gulfstream Park. She closely tracked the leaders before fading in the lane in that race, the Banshee Breeze Stakes on Jan. 23.

Becky in Pink and Lady Libby are next at 114. Becky in Pink, also cross-entered at Laurel, overcame an 11-length deficit to win an allowance race at Charles Town last time out, while the New York-bred Lady Libby loves the Big A's inner track, where she has won 3 of 6 starts.

Lady Libby will debut for new ownership following a private purchase by Richard Ribeiro from Barry Seinfeld and Elizabeth Dodson. Steve Kappes remains the trainer.

Say Hey Willie completes the field at 113.