01/04/2006 12:00AM

Spenny facing speedy crew


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - On the surface, it appeared logical. Trainer Rick Violette, leery about running a recent maiden winner in a stakes, scratched Spenny out of Monday's Ruthless Stakes to run in an allowance race at Aqueduct on Friday.

Violette may have had some second thoughts after favored Oprah Winney bounced off her last effort and finished last in the Ruthless, while Friday's entry-level allowance race drew a full, competitive field of 11.

"I was surprised at the full field in the [allowance]," Violette said Wednesday from Florida. "I thought [the Ruthless] was a little too much to bite off. Oprah Winney did bounce, but there were still two pretty nice fillies in the race. I didn't want to run for third money and be fourth. I figured we'd go the allowance route, and when we knock that off maybe we'll try a stake."

Despite the competitive nature of Friday's six-furlong heat, Spenny does look like the one to beat. A daughter of Menifee, Spenny comes off a solid 1 3/4-length maiden win on Dec. 4 in which she used her speed to overcome the outside post in a 12 horse field. Before that, Spenny had run third in a pair of pretty well-regarded maiden races. In her second start, Spenny finished 5 1/2 lengths behind Somethinaboutbetty, who came back to win the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship at Laurel on Dec. 26.

Though Spenny won her maiden in gate-to-wire fashion, Violette does not feel she is a need-the-lead type.

"She doesn't have to be on the lead, but it's certainly been the right place to be on certain days."

, Merrimack County, and Ballymist look to have ample speed, but they get tested for class in this spot.

, Successful Romance, and Wild Gams are interesting. Sleeping, the only 3-year-old filly being offered for the $75,000 optional claiming price, is already an allowance winner. She drops out of poor efforts in a pair of Grade 3 stakes and should be in a stalking position for red-hot trainer Gary Contessa.

finished second to the undefeated Miraculous Miss before running poorly in the Randaroo over the inner track. Wild Gams finished fourth in a New Jersey-bred stakes last out, but she shows a best-of-60 five-furlong work out of the gate on Dec. 31.