04/29/2003 11:00PM

Owsley fresh for Beaugay Handicap


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Last year, Owsley began her 4-year-old campaign modestly, in allowance company, and then went on to bigger and better things. This year, Owsley will make her seasonal debut against a tough group of filly and mare turf runners in Saturday's $100,000 Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct.

Owsley blossomed last year, winning three graded turf stakes at three different tracks and distances for her owner-breeder, Arthur B. Hancock III. Trained by Randy Schulhofer, Owsley won the Grade 2 New York Handicap at Belmont Park, the Grade 3 Glens Falls Handicap at Saratoga, and the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland. She ended the year by finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 at odds of 21-1.

"I don't really know what happened in the Breeders' Cup," Schulhofer said. "She got slammed and sandwiched out of the gate - she broke from post 10 in a 12-horse field. That's the only excuse we came up with. She actually was only beaten eight lengths."

Owsley spent 45 days at Hancock's Stone Farm in Kentucky before joining Schulhofer's stable at Gulfstream Park. She returned to New York in March and has had four workouts at Belmont.

"She really wasn't handling the track at Gulfstream training-wise," Schulhofer said. "She's doing good now. Saturday's race is more or less a place to get her going. It's a tough [spot] and she likes a little more distance, but she should run well."

With Owsley's regular rider Edgar Prado in Kentucky Saturday to ride Peace Rules in the Derby, Javier Castellano has the mount.

Among the horses Owsley will face in the Grade 3 Beaugay at 1 1/16 miles are Grade 1 winners Voodoo Dancer, who won the Beaugay last year, and Wonder Again.

Shaanmer tops feature

Shaanmer, scratched from last Saturday's off-the-turf Fort Marcy, is the one to beat in his United States debut in Friday's feature race.

The one-mile turf race for nonwinners of three races other than drew 10 runners, plus two also-eligibles.

Shaanmer, who drew the rail and will be ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn, hasn't run since finishing second in a Group 3 in France last September. The 4-year-old also finished second in a pair of Group 1 races last year. Shaanmer will race on Lasix for the first time.

Clement said the Grade 1 Manhattan June 7 at Belmont is a spot he would consider for Shaanmer.

Sohaib, another import, is a threat following his handy win in his U.S. debut for trainer Mark Hennig at Gulfstream earlier this month. Last year, Sohaib finished third behind Moon Ballad, this year's Dubai World Cup winner, in a Group 3 in England.

* Apprentice Luis Chavez, who will lose his bug May 6, has been suspended 10 days for careless riding in a race last Sunday. Chavez appealed the ruling and a stay has been granted. Chavez has racked up a total of 40 days of riding suspensions.

* Saratoga's Oklahoma training track opened for business Thursday. A record number of horses are expected to be stabled at Saratoga before the meet opens July 23. Oklahoma's turf course is scheduled to open May 21.

* Kentucky Derby Day at Aqueduct will feature 10 live races, including the Beaugay and $150,000 Withers. First post is 1 p.m. and the final race is scheduled for 5:28 p.m. The Derby's approximate post is 6:04 p.m. Each paid admission will receive a free Kentucky Derby glass, while supplies last.

Fans can wager on all the Churchill Downs races at Aqueduct Saturday and there also will be advance wagering offered on the Derby Friday. Aqueduct will handle wagering on the Kentucky Oaks/Derby double Friday.