03/23/2005 1:00AM

Next Move distance just right for Friel's for Real

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Saintliness makes her graded stakes debut in Friday's Next Move 'Cap.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The rain, snowflakes, and falling temperatures here Wednesday made it feel as if winter will never end. But the field assembled for Friday's $100,000 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct indicates that spring is here.

Five stakes winners were among the nine fillies and mares entered in the Grade 3 Next Move, including Daydreaming, Friel's for Real, and the undefeated Saintliness. The Next Move is run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track, which is likely to be sloppy.

rates a slight edge in this field based on her consistency, versatility, and current form. A 5-year-old daughter of Sword Dance, Friel's for Real has won 10 of 18 career starts, including 7 of her last 9. Her lone poor performance in that time was a fifth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.

Trainer Ned Allard said Friel's for Real was carried out extremely wide entering the first turn of that race and never recovered, losing by eight lengths. Friel's for Real came back to her mid-Atlantic base and romped to a 5 1/2-length score in the Maryland Racing Media Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 26.

"She's coming off a good race," Allard said. "I think a mile and an eighth hits her right on the head. An off track is not going to hurt her."

Friel's for Real is 3 for 4 at 1 1/8 miles, including a win at the distance over the main track last April. Abel Castellano rides Friel's for Real from the rail.

Last Saturday, trainer Shug McGaughey won three races on the Aqueduct card, including the Grade 3 Gotham with Survivalist. Friday, McGaughey sends out probable favorite Daydreaming in the Next Move.

Somewhat inconsistent early in her 3-year-old year, Daydreaming came around the second half of the season, winning 3 of 4 starts, including the Grade 3 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hoosier and the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap over this track last November.

disappointed in her 4-year-old debut, finishing fourth of five as the 7-10 favorite in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream.

"I think it was a paceless race and we laid up a little closer. That was the main thing," said McGaughey, who said he would prefer to see Daydreaming off the pace. "This looks like a paceless race, too, but we'll be back a little bit."

McGaughey said Daydreaming pulled a muscle in training following the Sabin, but has recovered from that ailment. Edgar Prado rides Daydreaming from post 7.

and Think Fast look like the main speed horses. Saintliness, unbeaten in five starts, is 2 for 2 on off tracks and comes off a front-running win in the Affectionately on Jan. 15. Her connections gave her a little rest to be fresh for her graded stakes debut.

Miss Fortunate, who won the Rare Treat, and Rare Gift, who won the Ladies Handicap, add to the depth of this field.