02/23/2008 12:00AM

Runway Rosie gets up by a gutsy head

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Last winter, Runway Rosie was running against champion filly Rags to Riches in Grade 1 races at Santa Anita. A year later, a gutsy triumph in Saturday's 36th running of the Rare Treat Handicap confirmed her status as one of the most consistent fillies at New York's inner-track meet.

Runway Rosie was well placed by Rajiv Maragh through the early stages of the Rare Treat, racing along the rail just inside 19-10 favorite Stage Luck as both stalked a pace duel between Aliysa and Wild Hoots.

Aliysa cut sharp opening fractions of 22.65 seconds and 47.05, but Wild Hoots took over after six furlongs in 1:11.09, and edged clear into midstretch after a mile in 1:35.99. Runway Rosie, who had eased out three wide for room approaching the quarter pole, put in a sustained run through the stretch to overtake Wild Hoots by a hard-fought head.

"At the top of the stretch, I put myself in position and let my horse run," said Maragh. "She showed a lot of determination. The horse in front never gave up; my horse just outmuscled her to the wire."

In winning her third straight race for leading trainer Gary Contessa, Runway Rosie covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.83 on a fast track - the fastest Rare Treat since Prophet's Warning's 1:48.80 back in 1997.

Wild Hoots was 5 1/4 lengths clear of Stage Luck in third. Homerette, Aliysa, and Guidance completed the order of finish.

Runway Rosie paid $10 as the fourth choice, and earned $48,645. She is owned in part by Steve Sigler's Winning Move Stable. Sigler mentioned the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap on March 29 as a possible next start for the 4-year-old daughter of Include.