08/23/2005 12:00AM

Reunited's wait could pay off

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Neil Howard and owner William Farish were tempted to run their exciting 3-year-old filly prospect here earlier this summer in the Grade 1 Test Stakes. Instead, they exercised patience and opted to give her a little more experience before unveiling her against stakes company in Thursday's $75,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Saratoga.

A six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, the Victory Ride will be no easy spot for Reunited. Among her six rivals Thursday are graded stakes winners Megascape, Maddalena, and Burnish; the multiple graded-stakes-placed Hot Storm; and the undefeated Nothing But Fun. Still, the Victory Ride figures to be easier than the Test, which featured a dominant performance from Leave Me Alone.

"Mr. Farish and I knew we made the right choice skipping the Test, both before and after the race," said Howard. "Nobody holds the Test and Grade 1 races of that stature in higher regard than Mr. Farish, but we decided to stay conservative and take advantage of having the luxury of a second-level allowance condition."

Reunited has won 3 of her 4 starts. Her lone setback came in a seven-furlong allowance at Churchill Downs on June 9, when recent Monmouth Oaks winner Flying Glitter defeated her by a neck following a racelong pace battle. Reunited was most recently a 6 3/4-length allowance winner here Aug. 5.

"I'm pretty confident going into this race," said Howard. "I am afraid she is a little one dimensional and seems to need to be on the lead. Fortunately, she isn't the kind of filly who just blasts out of the gate with her hair on fire and ears pinned back. She kind of eases to the front and does it fairly comfortably."

Megascape and Maddalena also figure to press the early pace. has been idle since finishing second in Hawthorne's Meafara Breeders' Cup on April 9. She won the Grade 3 Valley Stream Stakes in her 2-year-old finale.

Maddalena, winner of Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Old Hat in February, broke a step slowly and then chased Leave Me Alone to midstretch before finishing a tiring fifth in the Test.

Nothing But Fun won her only two starts, both at Belmont during the spring, and like Reunited makes her stakes debut Thursday.