03/23/2004 1:00AM

Randaroo giving weight to a champion


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - While Storm Flag Flying was recovering from an injury that limited her 3-year-old campaign to just two starts, Randaroo was winning some of the more significant stakes for fillies and mares run in New York last fall.

Randaroo will pay a little for that success - as well as her dominating victory in last month's Shirley Jones Handicap at Gulfstream - when she carries three more pounds than the multiple Grade 1-winning Storm Flag Flying in Saturday's $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct.

Randaroo, who has won four graded events but not yet a Grade 1, was assigned high weight of 121 pounds for the Grade 2 Distaff, run at seven furlongs. Storm Flag Flying, named the champion juvenile filly after winning three Grade 1's in 2002, was assigned 118 pounds.

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Randaroo, says he understands why racing secretary Mike Lakow made those weight assignments, but he doesn't necessarily agree with it.

"You never take Grade 1 status away from a horse or a filly, and she's a multiple Grade 1 winner, and I don't feel like we should be giving her weight at all," McLaughlin said Tuesday. "In the world of racing, as in Europe and around the world, she would always be giving us weight until we proved we were a Grade 1 winner. Being this isn't a Grade 1, we won't be doing that. But I understand what their thinking was and why they did it, and I hope they're right."

The presence of Randaroo and Storm Flag Flying figures to keep the field for the Distaff to a minimum. Chirimoya is the only other filly considered definite. Fit Performer, Gazillion, Lilah, and Se Me Acabo are possible.

Randaroo, a daughter of Gold Case, has won four of five starts since being transferred to McLaughlin by owner Joe Allen last fall. She won the First Flight at Belmont and the Top Flight at Aqueduct. Then she went to California and finished second to Island Fashion in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes. Island Fashion just finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap against males.

Randaroo made a smashing 4-year-old debut when she won the Shirley Jones by 7 1/4 lengths over Harmony Lodge. Her 108 Beyer Speed Figure was a career best.

"Our filly is doing great right now, and she loves seven furlongs," McLaughlin said. "Her last race was most impressive."

Both Randaroo and Storm Flag Flying will have new riders on Saturday. John Velazquez has ridden both, but he will be in Dubai on Saturday. Richard Migliore, McLaughlin's main rider, has the call on Randaroo. Edgar Prado will be named to ride Storm Flag Flying, trainer Shug McGaughey said Tuesday.

Storm Flag Flying completed her preparations for the Distaff at Belmont on Tuesday, breezing three furlongs in 37.02 seconds over the training track. She galloped out a half-mile in 49.60 seconds, according to the clockers.

Chilean-bred Host headed for Excelsior

Trainer Todd Pletcher was scheduled to ship six horses from south Florida to New York on Wednesday, including the Chilean-bred champion Host, who will make his next start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap here on April 3.

Host was scheduled to be one of three horses Pletcher intended to run in Dubai this weekend. But, an unsatisfactory blood test prior to shipping kept Host in the United States. Pletcher initially said he would consider running Host in the 10-furlong Gulfstream Park Handicap on April 3, but he said Tuesday he'd rather run Host at nine furlongs in the Excelsior.

Host has run twice in this country, finishing second both times in allowance races on turf. He was to have run in the UAE Derby this Saturday on dirt. On Sunday, he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida.

"The horse has trained very well," Pletcher said from Florida on Tuesday. "His last couple of works on dirt have been very good, and his only race on dirt [in Chile] was his most impressive race."

Also scheduled to ship here Wednesday was Balto Star, who was forced to miss last weekend's Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park due to a wrenched ankle. Pletcher said he plans to back off Balto Star and point him for a late spring and summer campaign.

Several possibilities for Bohemian Lady

Pletcher said plans for Bohemian Lady, the 6 1/4-length winner of Saturday's Grade 3 Cicada Stakes, were uncertain.

Pletcher plans to run Irish Melody, a filly who is 2 for 2, in the Grade 3, $100,000 Comely Stakes here on April 9. Pletcher said Bohemian Lady is still a candidate for the Comely, but she will also be considered for the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn that day or could simply train up to the Nassau County Stakes at Belmont on May 8.

"Her coat is not the greatest, and probably a little more time would help her, especially off a top effort like that," said Seth Benzel, Pletcher's New York-based assistant. "We really felt she ran her best race."

Bohemian Lady, owned by the Padua Stable, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89 in the Cicada.

Buy the Sport may try Bed o' Roses

Buy the Sport, who won the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap last September, worked four furlongs in 48.64 seconds Tuesday morning over the Belmont training track. It was her first work at a racetrack since she returned to trainer Bob Barbara's barn a few weeks ago.

"She had a few works on the farm," Barbara said. "She was in Ocala all winter. She was just galloping along. She's filled out, she's matured, she's gained some weight, she looks wonderful.

Buy the Sport may return in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses, a one-mile race at Aqueduct April 17, Barbara said.

"Time's on our side to make it," he said. "We'll just play it by ear."

Buy the Sport, owned by the Georgica Stable of Peter Minikes, has not run since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Gaelic Issue tops Thursday feature

A drop in class and his affinity for a wet track could give Gaelic Issue an edge in Thursday's feature race, a $46,000 second-level allowance for New York-breds at nine furlongs.

Gaelic Issue, trained by J. Willard Thompson, finished third against open company in an entry-level allowance race on Feb. 22. Prior to that, Gaelic Issue won an entry-level statebred allowance over Callcat, who won here on Monday.

There is rain in the forecast Thursday, and Gaelic Issue did win his maiden in the slop over the inner track in December.

The one obstacle Gaelic Issue must overcome is the lack of speed in the race. Summer Dust, who has run well in two starts here since returning from the Midwest, looks like the lone speed from the rail.

Rb's Glitter, a restricted stakes winner at 2, and Delta Ghost, who comes out of a third-place finish against Song of the Sword and Sinister G, are the other threats in the six-horse field.