08/16/2006 11:00PM

Lady Fingers draws Saratoga shippers


Local horsemen at Finger Lakes will have their hands full with invaders from the south in Saturday's two six-furlong stakes for New York-bred juveniles, the $127,638 Aspirant for both sexes and the $126,725 Lady Fingers for fillies.

In the Lady Fingers, the deeper of the two races, Bill Mott and Roger Laurin each bring in a good-looking Saratoga-based filly, while Todd Pletcher has a filly who won her maiden at Belmont and has been training at Monmouth.

Chief Officer, trained by Mott, is the likely favorite in the Lady Fingers. She won her maiden by 10 lengths in her debut, which came in June against statebred fillies at Belmont. Chief Officer passed the acid test for class in her only other start, a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga on July 26. Under heavy pressure on the early lead, Chief Officer hung in there to finish third, beaten nine lengths by Cotton Blossom with Astoria winner Desire to Excel second.

The Pletcher-trained One Tough Belle comes off a fourth in the Astoria, run at Belmont on July 2. She beat statebreds by 6 1/2 lengths in her maiden score.

Icy City, trained by Laurin, has steadily improved in her three starts, all against statebreds, running fourth behind Chief Officer in her debut, third at Saratoga, and then rallying after a poor start to win her maiden at Saratoga on Aug. 11.

Lookslikecash appears best of the locals. She ran seventh to Icy City's third at Saratoga in her debut, then romped to a seven-length score in an open maiden dash at Finger Lakes on Aug. 6.

In the Aspirant, only three of the seven entered have won a race. Gary Contessa brings in the likely favorite, Solid Strike, who won a Belmont maiden sprint for statebreds July 3 in his only start. His stiffest competition should come from Tomorrow the World, a four-length Finger Lakes maiden winner in his only start, and Endless Circle, who showed speed finishing fifth at Saratoga July 31.

A third stakes Saturday, the $50,000 Proud Puppy for fillies and mares going six furlongs, also drew a formidable invader, this one from the north. Friendly Theresa has won two straight at her home base of Woodbine and may have the speed to repel her eight rivals.

Laurel: Mile for Smart and Fancy

Smart and Fancy ended her 2005 juvenile season with three straight victories, including two stakes, and she picked up right where she left off by winning the Beautiful Day at Delaware five weeks ago in her first start of this year. Smart and Fancy will try to make it five straight in the $75,000 Twixt, a one-mile stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park.

The challenge for Smart and Fancy in the Twixt will be to stretch her speed a furlong farther than ever before. The Beautiful Day was at six furlongs and the Maryland Million Lassie, which Smart and Fancy won last October, was at seven furlongs. She will have to deal with the sprinters Scheing E Jet and My Misty's Echo early in the Twixt and hold off the late runs of Keep on Talking, Racing Bridgett, and Les Ry Leigh. Trained by Tony Dutrow, Smart and Fancy has been working swiftly since her Delaware win, an indication that jockey Jeremy Rose is unlikely to have her far off the lead Saturday.

Les Ry Leigh may find herself in the perfect spot in the Twixt. She won two straight allowance races at Delaware and then finished second there in her first try against older about a month ago. In all three of those races she sat a couple of lengths off the early pace, which would be a good place to be Saturday if Smart and Fancy is hooked on the lead.