04/11/2007 11:00PM

Scenery change may help Boca Grande


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Shug McGaughey hopes a return to New York results in a return to form for his graded stakes-winning filly Boca Grande. Trainer Todd Pletcher hopes his filly Perfect Forest didn't leave her best races in south Florida.

Boca Grande and Perfect Forest look like the main threats among the nine 3-year-old fillies entered in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Comely Stakes going one mile at Aqueduct.

Boca Grade, a daughter of A.P. Indy, won 2 of 3 starts as a 2-year-old, including the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes over Aqueduct's main track last November. She wintered at Gulfstream Park, but McGaughey didn't feel that Boca Grande was handling the track in her training. In her only race of the winter, Boca Grande finished sixth of seven in the Grade 2 Forward Gal.

"I think she was fighting that track," said McGaughey, who noted that Boca Grande needed a shoe repair in the paddock prior to the Forward Gal.

McGaughey believes that Boca Grande has trained like "a different horse'' upon returning to New York. Boca Grande will break from post 4 under Mike Smith and 122 pounds.

Perfect Forest went winless in two starts as a 2-year-old. But she appeared to thrive in Florida, winning a maiden race by 9 3/4 lengths and a first-level allowance by four lengths without ever feeling a jockey's whip.

"She's a filly who showed some talent in the morning,'' Pletcher said. "She ran okay [at 2], not quite as well as we expected her too. She never left the barn, we gave her some time, and she filled out a bit, grew up a bit, and came up with two better performances."

Perfect Forest, who breaks from post 3 under Ramon Dominguez, may have a tactical advantage in a race without much speed.

Fee Fi Fo Fum is an intriguing participant. After winning her debut going nine furlongs on turf, she ran third in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss going nine furlongs on dirt. Jockey Joe Bravo had to take a hold of her a couple of times down the backside and told trainer Jimmy Jerkens that may have cost her the race.

"She ran terrific; I thought she was gaining at the end," Jerkens said.

Desire to Excel, a stakes winner at 2, figures to improve off her fifth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Florida Oaks on March 17. That was her first start in nine months and first around two turns. She won her career debut over this track 360 days ago.