03/17/2005 1:00AM

Megascape can bounce right back

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Megascape has twice rebounded from subpar efforts to win stakes races. There are a few reasons to believe Megascape can do it a third time when she heads an eight-horse field entered in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct.

First, had seven weeks between races and missed some training time when she ran third in the Dearly Precious Stakes last month over the inner track. Second, Megascape faced severe pace pressure in the Dearly Precious, in which she was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Acey Deucey. There does not appear to be as much speed in the Cicada.

Toby Sheets, the assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, admitted that his filly may have been "a tad short" for the Dearly Precious after having a little break. Before the Dearly Precious, Megascape recorded back-to-back stakes wins in the Ruthless and the Grade 3 Valley Stream. The Valley Stream was run over the main track at six furlongs. The Cicada will be run at seven furlongs over the same surface.

Though 3 of her 4 wins have come at six furlongs or shorter, Megascape did win the seven-furlong Joseph A. Gimma Stakes at Belmont last October. Megascape is burdened with high weight of 122 pounds and will get a new rider in Aaron Gryder as Stewart Elliott will be in Arkansas to ride Rockport Harbor.

Salute and Alfonsina make the Cicada a competitive race. Salute has not run since finishing second behind Sis City in the Grade 2 Demoiselle here on Nov. 27. Trained by Shug McGaughey, she wintered in Florida but did not run. McGaughey said Salute would be better coming from off the pace than pressing it, as she did in the Demoiselle.

stumbled at the start and was favored over Megascape when the two met in the Valley Stream here last November. Alfonsina made her 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream, finishing a well-beaten second behind the promising Maddalena.

Maryland shipper should be a late-running factor in the Cicada. Take a Check had a troubled trip when beaten a nose by Amazing Buy in the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel Park.

"I'm not saying she should have won, but she could have won," trainer Richard Small said.

Acey Deucey has won her last two from well off the pace including a 24-1 upset in the Dearly Precious. Trainer John Morrison said he believes his filly is ready to take another step forward in the Cicada.