03/21/2007 12:00AM

Smart and Fancy able to avoid 'Oprah'

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Tony Dutrow does as good a job as any trainer when it comes to putting his horses in winnable spots. Having unsuccessfully chased Oprah Winney in two stakes tries this year with Smart and Fancy, Dutrow did not feel compelled to face her again in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct.

Dutrow found Friday's $65,000 Break Through Stakes a better alternative for Smart and Fancy, and supplemented her to the race for a fee of $200. Smart and Fancy looms the horse to beat in the six-furlong overnight stakes.

Smart and Fancy, a 4-year-old daughter of Not for Love, has won four stakes restricted to Maryland-breds. On New Year's Day, Smart and Fancy finished second to Oprah Winney in the Interborough Handicap here. On Feb. 19, Smart and Fancy finished third, beaten 1o3/4 lengths by Oprah Winney in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park. Oprah Winney is pointing to Saturday's Distaff.

"Oprah Winney's been in great form,'' said Dutrow, who actually was the trainer of record for Oprah Winney's Barbara Fritchie win because his brother Rick was serving a suspension. "This is going to be a kinder spot. I thought Smart and Fancy ran her very best in both races.''

Cutting back to six furlongs from seven should also benefit Smart and Fancy, though Dutrow didn't use the seven furlongs as an excuse for Smart and Fancy's loss in the Barbara Fritchie.

"I can't give seven furlongs as the reason she didn't win the Barbara Fritchie,'' he said. "She wasn't good enough that day to win the Barbara Fritchie.''

Dutrow also entered Pennyrile in the Break Through, but intends to run her only if something happens to Smart and Fancy, who breaks from post 2 under Ramon Dominguez.

Another trainer who found the Break Through a better spot than the Distaff is Jim Ryerson, who has entered Livermore Valley. Liver-+e also contenders in the Break Through.

Lake pulling out of New York

Scott Lake, who led all trainers nationally in 2006 with 532 wins, will be pulling his horses out of New York at the end of the month. Lake began the winter with 26 horses stabled at Belmont Park, but is down to about 10.

"I'm tired, I want to cut down," he said. "I'm trying to concentrate on just the Mid-Atlantic area with the slots coming into [Philadelphia Park]. I want to start downsizing a little bit.''

Lake, who is 5 for 29 during the inner-track meet, said he has horses based at eight different tracks, but when the Gulfstream meet ends in April, he will be down to six tracks.

Lake, 41, has been stabled in New York for the last five years. The last three years, he averaged 55 wins. Lake said he still plans to run horses in New York on a ship-in basis.

"I'll definitely look to run there, I just need to back down,'' he said. "I'm just exhausted. I want to do the right thing by my owners. The last two years I wasn't as focused there as I needed to be, but I was very pleased with the results since we went there.''

McGaughey runners returning soon

Trainer Shug McGaughey kept only three horses here this winter, making life pretty simple for assistant Buzz Tenney. But Tenney's winter break is about to come to an end.

McGaughey will begin shipping horses from south Florida to New York this weekend, with his eye on several of Aqueduct's major spring stakes. Among the horses in the first group to arrive is Sightseeing, McGaughey's promising 3-year-old who will be considered for the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial on

April 7.

Sightseeing twice ran in first-level allowance races at Gulfstream Park this winter, finishing second to Delightful Kiss and third to Chelokee. McGaughey said he is not yet committed to the Wood.

"I'm going to see how he's doing; see how things play out,'' McGaughey said Wednesday.

In his second wave, McGaughey plans to send Demoiselle winner Boca Grande back to New York with an eye on the Grade 2 Comely Stakes on April 14.

McGaughey was already successful with his first Florida shipper, as Happy Hunting won a fourth-level allowance race over the inner track on March 14. In his first start since last June, Happy Hunting took advantage of a contested pace battle to win by 1 1/2 lengths while running a mile and 70 yards in 1:40.87. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97. Happy Hunting will likely run next in the Excelsior here on April 7.

"I know Corinthian's going to run there, but I'm going to take a look at it,'' McGaughey said. "He trained really well down here this winter, and with the time off he's gotten really sound. I thought the race the other day was very good.''

McGaughey also sent Five Star Daydream to run in the Cicada, a race that was rescheduled for this Saturday after getting postponed when last Saturday's card was canceled because of inclement weather.

Rahys' Appeal preps for Apple Blossom

Rahys' Appeal drilled five furlongs in 59.64 seconds Tuesday morning at Belmont as she continues preparations for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 7. Jockey Alan Garcia was aboard for the move, the fastest of 39 at the distance.

"I can't seem to slow her down anymore,'' trainer Tom Bush said. "The track had some moisture in it and she does love that. I did have Alan Garcia breeze her for me. The exercise boys have a hard time giving her a little breather. I thought Alan could do that, but he let her roll.''

Rahys' Appeal is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Santa Maria at Santa Anita on Feb. 10.

Bush mentioned that A True Pussycat, third in the Grade 3 Azeri Breeders' Cup Handicap last out, could run back in the $100,000 Next Move Handicap here on March 31.