01/24/2005 12:00AM

Stakes on True Gold's radar


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When one is going as well as trainer Tom Bush is going this winter, it's quite understandable to think big. Bush, who has maintained a 39 percent win rate through the first two months of the inner-track meet, has ambitious plans for his 4-year-old filly True Gold.

Bush believes True Gold, who is 2 for 2, could be talented enough to run in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap next month at Laurel Park. As a means toward that end, Bush will run True Gold in a second-level allowance race Wednesday at Aqueduct. There is a pick six carryover of $25,177 from last Friday. A snowstorm forced Aqueduct to cancel Saturday and Sunday.

Bush has entered in Wednesday's feature. High Peaks could scratch to run in Saturday's $50,000 What a Summer Stakes at Laurel Park, a race that was postponed because of the snow.

True Gold won a six-furlong maiden race over Aqueduct's main track on Nov. 24. Four of the six runners who finished behind her that day have since won.

True Gold, meanwhile, successfully stretched out to 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 31, winning an entry-level allowance race by a neck over the favored South Wing.

"I was probably sticking my neck out a little bit running her long in her second start," said Bush, who is 12 for 31 at this meet. "She's not only a nice filly, she obviously has a lot of courage, too. I had it in the back of my mind to cut her back, and if she ran well I'd consider running her back in something like the Barbara Fritchie. Obviously, I'm a little ahead of myself. Let's see how she performs against nonwinners-of-two fillies.''

, a filly trained by Todd Pletcher, and Larger Than Life, a mare claimed from Pletcher by Steve Asmussen, look to be True Gold's main competition. Star Celebrity, a New York-bred daughter of Louis Quatorze, won an open-company, entry-level allowance race on Oct. 22 before finishing third at this level on Nov. 21.

Though Star Celebrity can rate, the fact that she has the rail may force jockey Stewart Elliott to use her early speed.

Asmussen claimed Larger Than Life for $35,000 on Dec. 30, when she finished second going a mile and 70 yards. This will be her first start at six furlongs.

Greenberg, away since May; Ensenada, a regally bred filly who finished last at this level on Dec. 30; Volatile Vickie, twice a runner-up in this condition; and longshot Shampelicus complete the field.