06/27/2001 11:00PM

Rockingham: Three-way battle in Oaks


SALEM, N.H. - If the weather stays dry and Saturday's $25,000 Rockingham Park Oaks remains on the turf, the 1 1/16-mile race shapes up as a three-way battle between Dream Wish, Buzzing B's, and Sunlit Ridge. If the race comes off the turf, then Rhubarb Red enters into the mix.

The Rockingham Park Oaks is the first of three upcoming stakes for females. On Sunday, older fillies and mares will race six furlongs in the Rockingham Park Distaff. On July 4 fillies and mares will run in the $75,000 Rockingham Park Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Bill Mott, trainer of Hap, who dominated the Grade 3 New Hampshire Sweepstakes Handicap last week, will send in Dream Wish for the Rockingham Oaks. In her last outing, the $50,000 Captive Miss at 1 1/16 miles over Monmouth's turf course, Dream Wish finished fourth. That was only the second outing of the year for Dream Wish, a Kinsman Stable homebred daughter of Kingmambo. She has won two races, with her lone turf victory coming last year in a Belmont allowance.

Josiah Hampshire Jr. gets the call on Dream Wish, who will race on Lasix and bute for the first time in the Rockingham Oaks.

Buzzing B's romped over 3-year-old fillies in the Helena Stakes on the main track at Suffolk in April, then came back with a second to the older Step With Style in the My Fair Lady Stakes in her turf debut. Buzzing B's hasn't raced since finishing second in an allowance early this month, but trainer George Handy has kept her sharp with a series of fast half-mile drills. She has a good turn of speed and could set the pace.

Sunlit Ridge won two Mass-bred stakes, the Beacon Hill and Boston Common Stakes, both of which were at a mile on the turf at Suffolk. She came from well off the pace when she downed females by five lengths in the Boston Common and was much closer to the front when she beat the boys by a length in the Beacon Hill.

Trained by John Rigattieri, Sunlit Ridge didn't beat the strongest fields in those races, but her record of 4-5-4 in 15 starts suggests she's always trying her best.

Rhubarb Red will start only if the race comes off the turf, according to trainer Tony Ryan. She finished second to older allowance horses last out in her lone turf try.