02/10/2004 12:00AM

Lage keeps Miss New York sharp

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Armando Lage breathed a sigh of relief Sunday, when a $50,000 optional claiming sprint filled for Thursday's Golden Gate Fields card.

Although he had nominated Miss New York to this Saturday's $55,000-added Richmond Handicap, he wanted to run her in the six-furlong allowance, where she looks like the one to beat.

"I always try to find the easiest possible spot for my horses," Lage said. "I like to run them, and run them where they belong. My choice was always to run Thursday.

"But I didn't want to lose a chance to run her now," he said. "I didn't want her to put in another sharp work instead of running in a race."

Lage has won two straight races with Miss New York since claiming her for himself for $25,000 on Nov. 13. He is very pleased with how she is currently training.

"She's really sharp," said Lage. "When horses get sharp, it's amazing how good they get, and she's super, super sharp."

Miss New York won in a similar spot last out, beating three of the five rivals she faces Thursday: Devil Dancing, Dancing Spray, and Gyrene. Jaciro and Rollette round out the field.

Miss New York has the perfect style for the race. She has enough speed to lead but is much better when stalking, as she did last time after Dancing Spray was hustled to the front early.

Since the Jan. 24 race, Dancing Spray has turned in a bullet 47.80 four-furlong work that was the best of 29 at the distance that day. She also has a bullet 1:00 five-furlong work that was the best of nine.

Devil Dancing will stalk, just as she did last time when she finished second by a half-length while making up 1 1/2 lengths in the stretch.

Jaciro, who adds blinkers for trainer Jeff Bonde, also figures to sit in a good stalking position. She comes out of a disappointing route try.

* Bonde, who is splitting his stable between Oaklawn and Santa Anita, entered Autumn Accent in the day's co-feature, a six-furlong allowance race for 3-year-old fillies. Autumn Accente won her debut and was third in her second start, a sprint down the Santa Anita Hillside Turf Course.

"There were no races in the Santa Anita book for her so we brought her up here," Bonde said.