06/19/2002 11:00PM

Raging Fever meets rival Shiny Band


ELMONT, N.Y. - Raging Fever and Shiny Band resume their rivalry in Saturday's $300,000 at Belmont Park.

The Grade 1 Phipps, until this year the Hempstead, drew a field of nine fillies and mares, including the defending champion, Critical Eye.

Raging Fever suffered her first defeat at Belmont when she was upset by Shiny Band in the Grade 2 Shuvee on May 18.

This year, before the Shuvee, Raging Fever won three stakes, twice defeating Shiny Band.

Although Raging Fever, who is trained by Mark Hennig, is a Grade 1 winner at the Phipps's 1 1/16-mile distance, she is probably more effective at a mile and under.

Raging Fever led the Shuvee field until the final sixteenth after being hounded by the favorite, Victory Ride, for much of the mile race.

"It got a little bit too quick for her," Hennig said in reference to the second quarter run in 22.54 seconds after a first quarter in 23.16. "We ran ourselves out of it, us and Victory Ride."

John Velazquez rides Raging Fever, the 120-pound highweight who drew post 8. Both Too Scarlet and Hope's Expectation have a touch of speed and figure to be prominent during the early running.

Hennig also entered Mystic Lady, who is better suited to the distance than her stablemate.

Mystic Lady, who is not coupled in the wagering with Raging Fever, has earned more than $1 million. Earlier this month, as the heavy favorite in the Nastique Stakes at Delaware Park, Mystic Lady ran terribly, finishing last, beaten 33 1/2 lengths. Hennig is at a loss to explain the performance, but said the filly might have been dazed after charging the gate before the start.

"Because of that race, I can't go over there with as much confidence in her as I usually would," Hennig said.

In the Shuvee, Shiny Band, who loves Belmont and a wet track, flew home a 2 3/4-length winner over a track labeled good for her first stakes win. Shiny Band's trainer, Allen Jerkens, said that even though the Shuvee unfolded to the filly's advantage, he believes he has a quality horse on his hands.

"I always thought she would be okay," said Jerkens, who won this race three times when it was named the Hempstead. "She's older and [better]."

Critical Eye tailed off after winning last year's Hempstead, but she does like Belmont and won an allowance here in May.