04/05/2005 11:00PM

Storm Minstrel in fine spot


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Technically, Storm Minstrel is taking a class hike when she faces five rivals in Friday's $60,000 Classy Mirage Stakes at Aqueduct. Realistically, it looks like a great spot for her to earn a second career stakes victory.

When returned from a 100-day layoff last month, she stumbled at the start and found herself on the lead in a race void of speed. The filly who tracked her - and eventually beat her - was Bank Audit, who won the Interborough Handicap on New Year's Day and, most recently, took the Grade 2 Distaff Breeders' Cup here last month.

Storm Minstrel doesn't face a rival as accomplished as Bank Audit in the Classy Mirage, a six-furlong race restricted to fillies and mares who have not won an open stakes. Last fall, Storm Minstrel won a restricted stakes going six furlongs over Aqueduct's main track.

Pablo Fragoso will ride Storm Minstrel from post 5.

, trained by Todd Pletcher, and She Is Raging, making her first start off a Kelly Breen claim, figure to set a contested pace.

Both times in her career when Forestier drew the rail, she set the early pace. That includes a second-level allowance win over the inner track on March 3. Forestier, who added blinkers last start, will break from the rail again on Friday.

finished third as the 3-5 favorite in an optional claiming race on March 18. Breen claimed her for $75,000 from Bruce Levine. On March 31, She Is Raging drilled four furlongs in 46.80 seconds from the gate. Stewart Elliott will ride She Is Raging from post 6.

Trainer Lisa Lewis was happy when jockey Fernando Jara was able to get Lovethatlegend off the pace in a third-level allowance win over the inner track on Feb. 27. But Lovethatlegend pressed the early pace in the Distaff Breeders' Cup and faded to sixth in the seven-horse field.

Lewis has made a rider switch to Jose Santos, who most likely will try to take Lovethatlegend off the pace in the Classy Mirage.

Santa Croce had two victories and a decent third in three races over the inner track before finishing seventh of 10 in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 19.

Princess Pelona won an optional claiming race at Laurel in her last start and might benefit from any moisture in the track if it rains as forecasted.