07/29/2004 11:00PM

Repeat no sure thing for Sightseek

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Sightseek, with Jose Cuevas riding, exercises Friday at Saratoga in preparation for her start in Sunday's Go for Wand. Among her five opponents will be Azeri, twice the champion older female, and Storm Flag Flying, who was champion at 2.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A year ago, dominated the Go for Wand Handicap, beating what could best be described as a modest field by 11 1/2 lengths.

Sunday, the pickings won't be nearly as easy when Sightseek tries to become just the third mare to win back-to-back runnings of the $250,000 Go for Wand at Saratoga. Sightseek heads a six-horse field that includes two-time defending champion mare Azeri, 2002 champion 2-year-old filly Storm Flag Flying, Grade 1 winner Mayo on the Side, Molly Pitcher winner La Reason, and the underrated New York-bred Board Elligible.

The Go for Wand lost a Grade 1 winner when Passing Shot was found to have a foot bruise on Friday, and was not entered.

Sightseek, who has won 10 of 17 starts and earned $1.7 million, is coming off an authoritative 3 1/4-length score over Storm Flag Flying in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont in June. Azeri finished last in that race, but was found to have bled, according to her trainer, D. Wayne Lukas.

There are several factors that have Bobby Frankel, trainer of Sightseek, a bit concerned entering the Go for Wand.

In the Phipps, Sightseek was in receipt of three pounds from Azeri that day, but must concede two pounds to her on Sunday. Unlike the Phipps, a one-turn, 1 1/16-mile race, the Go for Wand is run around two turns. Azeri has won 13 times around two turns. There is rain in the forecast for Sunday, and Sightseek has mixed results on an off track. She won the 2003 Phipps over a sloppy Belmont surface, but finished a dismal fourth in the Louisville Breeders' Cup three months ago. Azeri, meanwhile, won her only off-track race, the 2002 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Though Azeri has lost her last three starts, Frankel said: "She's the one I'm worried about. She's going to be tough, especially if it comes up wet, because she ran that great race in Chicago on a wet track."

In the Phipps, jockey Jerry Bailey had Sightseek right into the race, breathing hot and heavy down the neck of the pacesetting Azeri. Bailey said he lets Sightseek dictate where she wants to be. Sightseek will break from post 5 while Azeri, under Pat Day, leaves from post 6.

"If she's comfortable getting into the race, I don't ask her to do it, but I don't take it away from her either," Bailey said.

Despite Azeri's recent troubles, Lukas said he is "real optimistic about the race." Lukas believes Azeri is training as well as she has since he got her earlier this year.

I don't have any reservations about taking her over there," Lukas said.

Storm Flag Flying returns to Saratoga for the first time since she won her career debut on Aug. 18, 2002. Though Storm Flag Flying has run well around one turn in her last two starts, trainer Shug McGaughey believes the two turns will be a plus. Storm Flag Flying has won both career starts around two turns, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"I think she's a natural two-turn horse going a distance of ground," McGaughey said. "You won't have to rush her quite as much, and let her settle in behind whatever's going on, and take it from there. Her work last Sunday before we came up here was very good."

If Mayo on the Side can revert to the form she showed when she won the Doubledogdare and beat Azeri in the Humana Distaff, she could have a say in this race. She has a win and a second in two tries at the nine-furlong distance. Robby Albarado rides from post 2.

La Reason comes off a strong off-the-pace score in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap and hails from the barn of David Vance, who pulled the biggest upset in the history of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2000 with Caressing ($96).

Board Elligible has won her last two dirt starts, including the White Carnation Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day. This will definitely be her toughest race to date.