04/11/2009 12:00AM

Laragh has lots to overcome

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - She has not raced in 17 weeks, has never run on dirt, and is likely to find herself behind a horse in the early stages of the race. All these factors conspire to make Laragh a vulnerable favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct.

Away from the races since her front-running victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet last Dec. 13, Laragh returns against five 3-year-old fillies in the Comely, run as a one-turn mile over the main track. Her opposition includes Don't Forget Gil, a New York-bred who won the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, and Dream Play, the gate-to-wire winner of the Dearly Precious over Aqueduct's inner track.

Laragh's weapon is her speed and the ability to carry it. She doesn't appear to be as speedy as Dream Play, which could leave Laragh in a stalking position early. John Terranova, the trainer of Laragh, said he will let his filly do what she wants to early on under Ramon Dominguez.

"We're not looking to strangle her back unless she breaks out of there and wants to relax and stalk on her own,'' Terranova said. "Speed is her big asset, she can carry it. It's a devastating asset to have.''

As far as racing on dirt, Terranova said all the riders who have been on Laragh in the mornings have asked him, "When are we going to try the dirt?''

Dream Play can handle dirt. The question is whether she can handle a mile. All of her prior races have been six furlongs or shorter. In the Grade 3 Cicada, Dream Play found herself chasing Heart Ashley around the track after being outsprinted by that rival early. Prior to that, she went gate to wire to win the Dearly Precious.

"She should be able to stay the distance,'' trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Don't Forget Gil could be the

beneficiary of a contested pace. She comes off a solid victory in the

Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa, a race in which she stalked the pace, was passed by another rival at the quarter pole before coming back to win by four lengths. She cuts back to a one-turn race for the first time since last November.

"The weather's a concern, the one turn's a concern, but she's doing well,'' said trainer Mark Hennig, noting a wet track is possible for Saturday. "She had a real good work the other day; we're optimistic.''

Subprime, Holdontoyourdream, and Platinum Girl complete the field.

:: (DRF Plus)