05/11/2005 11:00PM

Rain helps outsiders' chances


ELMONT, N.Y. - On a fast track, California shippers Friendly Michelle and Elusive Diva would be the ones to beat in Saturday's $150,000 . But with showers in the forecast, the potential for a wet track could open the Grade 2 race up to fillies with better odds.

Friendly Michelle, trained by Bob Baffert, won the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes over this track last summer. She caught sloppy tracks in the Test at Saratoga, when beaten 14 1/4 lengths, and the Raven Run at Keeneland, beaten 26 1/4 lengths. She has not run in seven months.

Baffert said he gave Friendly Michelle the winter off because "she was real light" after a hard 3-year-old campaign. The wet winter weather in Southern California delayed her return to training, but Baffert believes he has Friendly Michelle ready to fire off a layoff. Friendly Michelle drew post 8 in the 10-horse field.

"I think her main thing is getting out of the gate," Baffert said. "She runs bad when she doesn't get out of the gate. She's pretty tight. She's cranked up as much as I could crank her."

Elusive Diva, trained by Mark Glatt, won the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes on dirt last May, but her recent success has come on the turf, including a victory in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita. Elusive Diva, a daughter of Elusive Quality, is 0 for 2 on off tracks.

"An off track does concern me, but this is a distance that suits her well and we want to hopefully have her up for the Just a Game on Belmont Day," Glatt said.

Forty Moves and Forestier are both 1 for 1 over a wet track. More important, both enter the Genuine Risk in career form. Forty Moves, who is 3 for 7 at Belmont, ran a career-best race when winning a third-level allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 28. She came back to finish second in the Hurricane Bertie Stakes behind Lilah, who ran her career best that day. Mark Hennig, who trains Forty Moves, has started this meet 3 for 5.

"We've settled into a style which she wants to run," said Hennig, referring to her stalking style.

Forestier, trained by Todd Pletcher, is 2 for 2 since adding blinkers. Pletcher said the key has been getting the filly to time her run just right.

"She needs not to do too much early," Pletcher said.