11/24/2004 1:00AM

McLaughlin duo inseparable


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin would prefer not to run two of his best horses against each other, but the conditions of Friday's $150,000 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct fit Bending Strings and Roar Emotion so well he can't leave either one in the barn.

Now, it's up to handicappers to figure out which one suits the Grade 2, one-mile race the best.

"If you told me to pick one or the other I couldn't. Both are doing great," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin won this race last year with Randaroo, who was coming off victories in the Safely Kept in Maryland and the First Flight at Aqueduct. Bending Strings, owned by John Gunther, took advantage of swift paces to win those same two races. The presence of Kentucky shipper Tempus Fugit and the Bobby Frankel-trained Pop Princess should ensure an honest pace on Friday.

"She'll come regardless, but it helps to have pace," McLaughlin said.

, owned by Joe Allen, has shown speed in the past, but rated kindly when second in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap here on Nov. 6. McLaughlin is hoping that John Velazquez can get Roar Emotion to stalk the pace again.

"One of the things that made our decision a little easier to run her here was we could get Johnny to ride her," McLaughlin said. "Last time, Johnny was able to work out a trip and he rated her kindly."

, the starting highweight at 118 pounds, will break from post 2 under Shaun Bridgmohan. Roar Emotion will break from post 3 and carry 116 pounds.

is another improving 3-year-old filly. Trainer Shug McGaughey said Daydreaming was dealing with "some minor issues" in the spring that precluded her from running her best in graded events. She has turned things around this fall with three straight solid efforts including a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hoosier Park.

"The only thing that concerns me is I worked her the other day and she worked a lot faster than I wanted," said McGaughey, referring to a Sunday workout in 46.26 seconds over a sloppy Belmont main track. "After this, win or lose, I'll put her away for awhile and bring her back in February."

Since adding blinkers, Pop Princes is 2 for 2. Caught in the Rain and Distinctive Kitten round out the field.