03/04/2006 12:00AM

Spun Sugar returns

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Before Indian Vale took the mantle from her, was the top 3-year-old filly in trainer Todd Pletcher's barn last year. Away from the races since a second-place finish in the Alabama, Spun Sugar returns to the races Monday in a third-level allowance race going one mile at Gulfstream Park.

Spun Sugar, a daughter of Awesome Again owned and bred by Gulfstream Park owner Frank Stronach, won three of her first four career starts, including the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico last May. After a second-place finish in the Mother Goose, a third in the Coaching Club American Oaks and another second in the Alabama, the decision was made to stop on Spun Sugar and give her the remainder of the year off.

"We thought a freshening would do her well and set her up for a nice 4-year-old campaign," Pletcher said Saturday.

Twice as a 3-year-old Spun Sugar won off workouts. She won her first start at 3 off a seven-month layoff over this track in February, then took an entry-level allowance race at Keeneland two months later. Spun Sugar shows eight workouts for her return, including a six-furlong move in 1:14.80 over the Palm Meadows training track on Feb. 25.

"She's done very well since she came back in," Pletcher said. I would feel like I have her where you would want her for a first start of the year. She should be fit enough where she's ready to run without having overdone it."

Pletcher made similar comments last week when he brought Bandini back to the races off a long layoff. All Bandini did was win a one-mile allowance race while setting a track record [1:34.19] in the process.

Pletcher said that a good performance on Monday could earn Spun Sugar a berth in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 8. There is also the Grade 2, $200,000 Rampart Handicap here on March 25.

Spun Sugar, who will break from post 5 in the six-horse field, figures to work out a stalking trip behind Only in Philly and Getcozywithkaylee. Only in Philly, trained by Michael Matz, has not been out since winning the Country Life Farm Stakes at Pimlico last April.

Getcozywithkaylee, trained by David Kassen, has won three consecutive races, including a third-level allowance race here on Jan. 27. She is eligible for this spot because she is being offered for the optional claiming price of $75,000.

Leona's Knight and Personal Odyssey complete the field.