01/13/2005 12:00AM

Saintliness attempts to stay perfect


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Ghostzapper was not the only Frank Stronach-bred and owned 4-year-old who went 4 for 4 in 2004. Saintliness, a daughter of Holy Bull, won all four of her starts, albeit in lesser company than her Breeders' Cup Classic-winning stablemate.

Saturday, Saintliness will put her undefeated record to the test when she makes her stakes debut in the $75,000 Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct. The Affectionately, run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track, shares billing with the $75,000 Count Fleet Stakes, a race for 3-year-olds that was postponed from last Saturday.

did not debut until last January and promptly reeled off three consecutive victories. She suffered a crack of a splint bone after winning a second-level allowance race in March and was away from the races for nine months. Saintliness, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, returned on Dec. 9 to win a third-level allowance.

"I thought we were probably 85 percent there, not quite 100 percent fit, but she ran very well,'' McLaughlin said. "She puts a lot into her morning workouts; she should improve off the run.''

In two route races, Saintliness has shown the ability to win from on or off the lead. There is no clear-cut speed horse in the Affectionately, though Bounding Charm and Richetta as well as Saintliness figure to be forwardly placed.

, who ships in from Maryland for trainer Robin Graham, has not been out since Nov. 5, when she finished second in the Honey Bee Handicap at The Meadowlands. Graham said the layoff was precipitated by Richetta's disdain for Pimlico, where she is 0 for 5, and the fact that allowance races at Aqueduct were not filling. Although Richetta's last victory came in gate-to-wire fashion, Graham would prefer to see her stalk.

, the 119-pound highweight, will likely go off as the favorite. She won the Montauk Handicap two back and was second in the Grade 3 Ladies Handicap last time out. Though the inner track could play against Board Elligible's late-running style, trainer James Ferraro said, "Don't forget, the inner track has a long stretch to run them down.''

Our Rite of Spring has won her last three dirt starts, including a minor stakes over the inner track.