03/29/2007 12:00AM

Rahys' Appeal set to turn tables


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Rahys' Appeal was beaten 24 3/4 lengths by Indian Vale the last time these two met, in the 2005 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. But a lot has happened in the last 16 months to make one believe things could be very different when these two meet again in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct.

First, Indian Vale has raced only once since the Falls City, that being a last-place finish in the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap last May. Meanwhile, Rahys' Appeal has developed into a consistent, dual-surface threat who is a stewards' decision away from being a Grade 2 winner.

Rahys' Appeal was disqualified from first in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap last November when jockey Alan Garcia inadvertently struck Malibu Mint in the face with his whip. Since then, Rahys' Appeal has made two cross-country trips to Southern California, finishing second in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio on turf and third in the Grade 1 Santa Maria on dirt.

Tom Bush, the trainer of Rahys' Appeal, hopes his mare's recent good form is an advantage over the classy Indian Vale, the Todd Pletcher-trained filly who won the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap in the fall of 2005.

"If you're going to try those kind of fillies you want to try them when you have some little edge," Bush said. "Perhaps [recency] is one or not, but obviously Todd wouldn't run her if he didn't have her ready. I would expect her to be formidable."

Bush said the two cross-country trips have not taken much out of Rahys' Appeal, who has trained forwardly at Belmont leading up to the Next Move.

"She's doing terrific; she's trained aggressive," Bush said. "She's a big, big strong filly and takes the training and takes the traveling. She's on her game for sure."

Rahys' Appeal may get help from stablemate A True Pussycat, who could apply pressure to the expected front-runner, Indian Vale. Indian Vale, the 119-pound highweight under Mike Luzzi, will likely try to lead gate to wire. She came out of the Shuvee with an ankle injury and was sidelined the remainder of the year. Pletcher had Indian Vale entered in the Lucky Lucky Lucky Stakes here in mid-March, but the race was twice canceled due to weather.

"We're not doing the ideal thing by running her in the Next Move at a mile and an eighth off that long of a layoff, but she's not a sprinter and we need to get going," Pletcher said. "I wouldn't expect her to be 100 percent cranked up for a mile and an eighth effort, but hopefully she can overcome it with her class and move forward."

Lexi Star, Dina and Daytime Promise complete the field.

Saturday's card is the final one to be run on the inner track. There is no racing Sunday due to Palm Sunday. Racing resumes Wednesday with the first of 19 cards to be held over the main track.