02/08/2006 1:00AM

'Sassy Girl' prefers N.Y. to Florida


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Steve Klesaris had plenty of reasons to get Phyllis Sassy Girl out of south Florida after her fifth-place performance in a second-level allowance race last month at Gulfstream Park.

Upon returning to New York, Phyllis Sassy Girl is running over an inner track she has an affinity for while racing for more money against weaker competition. She certainly seems to have landed in the right spot to clear the second-level allowance hurdle in Friday's feature at Aqueduct. The $47,000 purse is almost 25 percent more than she was running for at Gulfstream.

Phyllis Sassy Girl has 2 wins and 2 seconds from 4 starts over the inner track. She won her debut for trainer Robbie Bailes, but was claimed out of that race by Klesaris and owner Jeff Puglisi.

won an allowance race by 3 3/4 lengths before running second to Acey Deucey in the Dearly Precious Stakes. She came out of that race with an injury and was away from the races for 11 months.

Klesaris had always intended to ship Phyllis Sassy Girl back to New York, but felt no harm in getting a race under her belt at Gulfstream on Jan. 8. She finished fifth that day, and a week later shipped to New York, where she finished a hard-charging second behind New York-bred stakes winner Schemer in this same condition on Jan. 22.

"It was a good effort," Klesaris said. "I kind of sent her up there right on top of the race. Now, she's had the luxury of having galloped over the track and having raced over it as well."

Norberto Arroyo Jr. will ride Phyllis Sassy Girl from post 2.

Phyllis Sassy Girl will most likely have to run down . Away from the races since September, Elke makes her first start for trainer Tom Bush, who shows a flat-bet profit and a high win percentage bringing horses back off extended layoffs.

Bush is somewhat leery of Elke's fitness level for this race, but he's hopeful the speed-favoring nature of the inner track will help get her there.

"She really has trained well enough, and it sure looked she had potential at one time," Bush said. "The race didn't look like it came up all that strong, either. She's trained very eagerly and aggressively. She's had a history of not eating well, and we've had her in the feed tub for a while."

drops back into allowance company after running in 11 consecutive stakes. She is winless at six furlongs and over the inner track.