04/16/2003 11:00PM

Raging Fever looks alone on lead


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Raging Fever is not a need-the-lead type, but when able to make the front uncontested she is awfully tough to beat.

That looks to be the case Saturday when Raging Fever seeks to defend her title in the Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct against four tactically disadvantaged rivals. A Grade 3, $150,000 race at one mile, the Bed o' Roses is being run for the 47th time.

Raging Fever, who has won 10 of 20 starts and earned more than $1.3 million for owner-breeder Edward Evans, will attempt to stop a career-high five-race losing streak dating back to last summer. She comes off a second-place finish behind Carson Hollow in the Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap, a race in which Raging Fever chased the winner for the entire seven furlongs.

Saturday, Raging Fever looks like the main speed under Aaron Gryder. While trainer Mark Hennig will instruct Gryder not to take away anything that comes easy, the fact his filly drew the outside post will give Gryder options should someone else decide to send.

"The good thing is she's in a good position where he's not forced to make a decision until you see how the race unfolds,'' Hennig said.

The biggest threat to Raging Fever figures to be Smok'n Frolic, who has regained her 2-year-old form with wins in three of her last four starts. Most of her recent success has been around two turns, and Smok'n Frolic will cut back to the one-turn mile for the first time since she won the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Belmont as a 2-year-old.

Smok'n Frolic is 2 for 2 in graded stakes at Aqueduct, including a front-running victory in last month's Grade 3 Next Move at nine furlongs. Surprisingly, Smok'n Frolic is the highweight at 120 pounds, conceding a pound to three-time Grade 1 winner Raging Fever.

"She's a filly that has tactical speed, though it seems she's been more effective at two turns when she's on the lead,'' said trainer Todd Pletcher. "The key to the race is if there's a little bit of pace to go with Raging Fever.''

Alchemilla, who did show some speed winning an entry-level allowance over this track last year, gets in light with 111 pounds. There is a possibility she could be a pace-prompter under Shaun Bridgmohan.

Nonsuch Bay, last year's Mother Goose winner, would also benefit from a contested pace. Nonsuch Bay is coming off two open-length victories in two-turn races at Gulfstream.