06/28/2009 12:00AM

Porte Bonheur in right form

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer David Duggan doesn't believe he ran a short horse when Porte Bonheur finished second to Carolyn's Cat in last month's Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap. But Duggan does believe he's running a stronger horse when Porte Bonheur and Carolyn's Cat meet again in Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 First Flight Handicap at Belmont Park.

With more speed to go with Carolyn's Cat early, and based on Porte Bonheur's history in the second start of her form cycle, she could very well be the right one in a contentious renewal of this seven-furlong race for fillies and mares.

Porte Bonheur won a maiden race after finishing eighth in her debut. Last summer, Porte Bonheur won the restricted Flanders Stakes at Saratoga after finishing third in a second-level allowance race following a seven-month layoff.

In the Vagrancy, Porte Bonheur appeared to be in a good position behind Carolyn's Cat and Any Limit, who had hooked up at the three-furlong pole. But Carolyn's Cat ran away from Porte Bonheur in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths.

"The last time she ran she was probably a shade fresh coming off a layoff. She ran a little bit on the muscle," Duggan said of Porte Bonheur. "This time she's not as fresh - she's trained super, worked well. I think Carolyn's Cat has stepped up to the plate, but I'm fit enough and I'm ready."

Porte Bonheur will be attempting seven furlongs for the first time. All five of her wins have come at six furlongs.

"I don't think it's a major issue," Duggan said. "I think there's plenty of speed for me to run into."

Breaking from the rail, Carolyn's Cat figures to have to use the same front-running tactics she employed winning the Vagrancy. The presence, however, of Sunday Geisha - runner-up to Indian Way in the My Juliet Stakes at Philadelphia Park on May 23 - could compromise her on the front end.

"It's a tough post position for us under the circumstances," Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Carolyn's Cat, said. "If she breaks well like she does for Alan [Garcia] and one clears us, we don't have to be on the lead for sure. It just all worked out for us last time.''

Spritely figures to be forwardly placed under John Velazquez. She has won her last two, is 2 for 3 at seven furlongs, and appears to be training strongly for this. Turn Away is dangerous at a price.