12/05/2001 12:00AM

Raging Fever's return spot a thorny one

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - It appeared to be a good plan at the time. After being forced to miss most of her 3-year-old season because of injury, Raging Fever would get her winter campaign started in Saturday's $75,000 Garland of Roses, an ungraded sprint for fillies and mares that typically comes up light.

Except for this year.

Raging Fever, away from the races since April, will have to make her return against Xtra Heat, the top sprinting filly in the country in Saturday's Garland of Roses at Aqueduct.

"You're going up against the best sprinting filly in the country," said Seth Gregory, assistant to trainer Mark Hennig. "You certainly can't be as confident as you would have been if she were not in there."

In 2000, Raging Fever was one of the top juvenile fillies in the country, winning her first five races, including the Matron and Frizette, both Grade 1 events. She faltered as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing sixth behind longshot Caressing. The loss cost her an Eclipse Award.

Raging Fever was defeated by Mandy's Gold in her 3-year-old debut, running second in the Dame Mysterieuse Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After her third-place finish in the Grade 2 Beaumont at Keeneland on April 22, Raging Fever suffered a fracture in the growth plate of her stifle.

No surgery was required, but Raging Fever needed several months off. She returned to Hennig's barn in August at Saratoga and has had an uninterrupted training campaign since.

"She's trained very, very well," Gregory said. "It's always a question mark coming back off the layoff, but she's worked super, always has plenty of finish."

At 116 pounds, Raging Fever will be in receipt of eight pounds from Xtra Heat (124). Others expected to run include Dat You Miz Blue (120), Elektraline (115), Golightly (113), Look of the Lynx (113), Tina Dynamite (112) and Carafe (111).

Gregory said Raging Fever is expected to ship to Florida for the winter after the Garland of Roses, but Hennig's stable will still be active in filly and mare stakes over the inner track.

Summer Colony, a winner of four straight races, will make her stakes debut in the Ladies Handicap on Dec. 22. With Ability will be pointed to the Interborough Handicap on Jan. 1 and A.O.L. Hayes will be pointed to races like the Affectionately and Rare Treat.

Pentatonic retired

Pentatonic, the multiple-stakes winning New York-bred mare, came out of her fourth-place finish in Sunday's Montauk Handicap with a minor injury and has been retired, trainer Richard Schosberg said Wednesday.

"She came back very stiff in her stifle, which is a problem she's had for a few years although it hadn't been real, real bad," Schosberg said. "Obviously, she didn't run her race. We decided to call it a career and a quite successful one at that."

Her fourth-place finish Sunday earned Pentatonic $4,860 and pushed her career earnings to $601,861 for owner Sheila Sherry. Pentatonic, a daughter of Cure the Blues, had a 9-5-5 record from 29 starts. She won the Grade 3 Affectionately Handicap in January as well as the Montauk Handicap last December. In June, 2000, she finished second behind Beautiful Pleasure in the Grade 1 Hempstead.

"She has absolutely nothing left to prove," Schosberg said. "She beat horses like Pompeii, Serra Lake, Strolling Belle, Secret Status and was second to Beautiful Pleasure."

Schosberg said plans for Pentatonic's breeding plans have not yet been finalized.

Schosberg does have Pentatonic's full-sister, Tickles, who probably won't make her debut until next spring.

"At this point, it looks like she might be able to carry the ball," Schosberg said.

Kelly eyes Aqueduct 'Cap for Evening Attire

Trainer Pat Kelly can only hope Evening Attire likes the inner track as well as the main. After winning both the Discovery and Queens County over the main track, Evening Attire is expected to make his next start in the Aqueduct Handicap over the inner on Jan. 19.

"I hope he likes that track like the big track," Kelly said. "His style looks good; he sort of lays close."

Kelly said he wasn't surprised that Evening Attire was able to run as well in the Queens County as he did in the Discovery. "It was a big race," Kelly said. "But he trained well in between."

Kelly said his stakes-winning turf sisters, Cozzy Corner and Riskaverse, are vacationing in Aiken, S.C., for the winter. They will get January and February off before returning to Kelly's New York barn in March for an April return to the races.