08/28/2008 11:00PM

Questions surround Oaks duo


Study Abroad, a dominant winner in a similar restricted stakes at Belmont Park three races ago, and Doodlin, who delivered by far the fastest performance of her 15-race career in her first start locally, are the most logical contenders in Sunday’s $75,000 New York Oaks at Finger Lakes.

But can either 3-year-old filly be trusted to run back to their best in the 1 1/16-mile Oaks? That’s the question handicappers must answer.

Study Abroad made a mid-race move from sixth and drew off by 5 1/2 lengths in the $75,000 New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont on June 1. In two subsequent starts, however, she failed as the favorite, finishing fifth of sixth in an optional claimer and a distant second over a sloppy track at Saratoga three weeks ago.

On the plus side, her trainer, Rick Dutrow, is 9 for 16 (56 percent) shipping into Finger Lakes the last five years, according to DRF’s Formulator. That includes stakes victories in last year’s Lady Fingers and New York Breeders’ Futurity by the filly By the Light.

Doodlin, who had been running in starter allowance races on dirt and turf at Philadelphia Park, woke up when she was brought to Finger Lakes. The 87 Beyer Speed Figure she earned for beating high-priced open optional claiming company was more than 20 points higher than her previous best dirt Beyer. She remains, however, 0 for 9 on fast tracks.

That stat may be nullified by trainer Charlton Baker’s 10-for-24 success with fillies and mares returning in less than 30 days after posting a career-best Beyer. A year ago, Talking Treasure came back off a Beyer top to win the 2007 New York Oaks for Baker.

Love Co will be ridden by John Grabowski, who has won the Oaks seven times, including three wins since 2001. Love Co’s wire-to-wire win two starts ago in a 7 1/2-furlong race at Belmont, worth an 87 Beyer, would be fast enough to make her extremely dangerous in the Oaks.