02/14/2009 12:00AM

Seventh Street steps up in Fritchie


After three dominant wins against overmatched opponents, Seventh Street makes her stakes debut against seven more accomplished fillies and mares in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park.

Seventh Street is just one of two nonstakes winners in the field, but will most likely go favored in the seven-furlong race. The Barbara Fritchie is the nightcap of a nine-race card that also includes the $50,000 John B. Campbell Handicap.

Seventh Street returned from a 10-month layoff with three open-length victories at Aqueduct. Though she handled two turns well winning a second-level allowance race going one mile over Aqueduct's inner track on Jan. 8, jockey Rajiv Maragh believes Seventh Street may be better around one.

"He said she won very easily, but galloping out he was thinking that she could go two turns but she might excel going one turn," said Art Magnuson, the New York-based assistant for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Maragh rides Seventh Street from post 3 on Saturday.

Seventh Street's last three races have all been over wet surfaces. There is a 30 percent chance of showers in the Laurel area Saturday. Seventh Street also has never had dirt kicked in her face as she's won from either on or near the lead.

"We're not going to give Rajiv any instructions, he's going to play it on the break," Magnuson said. "He can play it any way he wants to; she's pretty sharp."

There are other speed-types in the field, including Now It Begins, By the Light, and Access Fee, who is 4 for 4 at Laurel.

Dream Rush used to be all speed when she was winning Grade 1 races like the Test and Prioress as a 3-year-old. Dream Rush has won her last two starts from just off the pace at Tampa Bay Downs.

"We do need to conserve her in order to get the job done," trainer Will Phipps said.

Dream Rush will be retired after this race and will be bred to A.P. Indy.

If Seventh Street doesn't wire the field, then Royale Michele and Fascinatin' Rhythm look live from off the pace. Royale Michele has won three straight, including an off-the-pace victory in the New Year's Eve Stakes at Mountaineer with an absolutely dream trip. Fascinatin' Rhythm was beaten a neck by a loose-on-the-lead Now It Begins in the Squan Song Stakes last month.

The first 4,000 fans who pay full admission into the track Saturday will receive a Laurel Park baseball cap. Fans can wear that cap for free admission for Monday's General George card.