09/06/2007 11:00PM

Oprah Winney getting tune-up

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Bill Denver/Equiphotos
Oprah Winney, winning Monmouth's Regret, will return for the Breeders' Cup.

ELMONT, N.Y. - On her way to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Monmouth Park next month, Oprah Winney will make a pit stop in Schenectady, as in the $100,000 Schenectady Handicap, which serves as Sunday's featured event on a 10-race card at Belmont Park.

A multiple stakes winner against open company, Oprah Winney towers over her five rivals in the Schenectady, a six-furlong race restricted to New York-bred fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Oprah Winney, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., will have to carry 126 pounds, spotting eight to 17 pounds to the rest of the field.

"This is just the next step to the big day," Dutrow said, emphasizing that he would like to go into the Filly and Mare Sprint "with a lot of confidence."

Oprah Winney, a 4-year-old daughter of Royal Academy, enters the Schenectady off a front-running 3 1/4-length victory in the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park on Aug. 5. That race served the purpose of finding out how well Oprah Winney would handle the Monmouth surface.

According to Dutrow, jockey Edgar Prado "said she really liked the track. That was encouraging."

In the Regret, Dutrow was hoping Oprah Winney could stalk the speedy Pure Disco, but that horse dumped her rider at the start. Oprah Winney quickly assumed the lead and was never touched by Prado's whip en route to her easy victory.

Before the listed Regret, Oprah Winney had been competing in graded stakes company. She won the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel in February, was third to Maryfield in the Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct in March, and was beaten a half-length by Indian Flare in the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap here in June.

Dutrow was hoping Oprah Winney could draw an outside post and work out a stalking trip off one of the speed horses. He got his wish, as Oprah Winney drew post 6 and should have ample speed to stalk in Gold Like U and Karakorum Starlet.

Karakorum Starlet comes off a one-length score under Kent Desormeaux in the Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 20. It was her first win outside of Belmont, where she is 4 for 11. Though Karakorum Starlet won the Union Avenue on the front, she has won two sprints here from off the pace.

"I know she's got some early gas," trainer Jeff Odintz said. "I left it up to Kent what he thought he should do. You can do anything you want with her - she's a real easy ride."

Trainer Pat Kelly will go with the uncoupled entry of Precise Lady and Scatkey.