11/13/2008 12:00AM

Laurel: Pletcher invader Fujita likely to be tested


Fujita, a Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old who has been competitive against some classy company, will get tested by two fast fillies when he attempts two turns for the first time in Saturday's $50,000 Northern Dancer Stakes at Laurel Park.

The race, which will be contested at about 1 1/16 miles on the main track, is restricted to Maryland-bred 3-year-olds and drew a field of eight.

Pletcher doesn't ship to Maryland very often, but he shows a 4-for-7 record in non-graded stakes at Laurel the past five years, including a win with Throng in the Native Dancer this past January.

Fujita has raced just once since early August and not at all since failing to fire over a muddy track in the $250,000 Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park in late September.

Fujita's most notable performance came when he briefly took the lead, only to be outfinished as the third horse behind Macho Again and Kodiak Kowboy, in the 7 1/2-furlong Derby Trial at Churchill Downs.

His stiffest competition might come from a pair of fillies, Sweet Goodbye and Fascinatin' Rhythm, who have combined to win 7 of 10 lifetime starts.

After she was badly beaten in her career debut, Sweet Goodbye was outfitted with blinkers, put on Lasix, and stretched out in distance. She has since won four in a row for trainer Chris Grove, including a three-length score last time out in the Maryland Million Oaks.

Fascinatin' Rhythm will be making her stakes debut after winning back-to-back starts against open allowance and optional claiming company. She will be asked to go around two turns for the first time.

Knight in Armour has been third or better in his last six starts while dividing time between turf and dirt. His best dirt races, however, all came at Delaware Park, and he shows an 0-for-6 record over Laurel's main track.

Jen's Reward, who was running for a $25,000 tag three races ago, faces Maryland-breds for the first time after back-to-back good efforts in open first-level allowance company.