08/23/2004 11:00PM

Sugar Punch lacks maturity, not talent

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - In terms of age and experience, Sugar Punch is at a disadvantage in Thursday's Union Avenue, but her obvious talent as a racehorse should help her overcome her lack of seasoning.

Sugar Punch will make her fifth career start, her first in a stakes, in the Union Avenue, a six-furlong race for New York-breds.

is the lone 3-year-old in the eight-horse field. Undefeated in three starts this year in statebred company, Sugar Punch has won each of those races with authority. In her latest start Aug. 5, Sugar Punch won a second-level allowance race by two lengths. The margin of victory in her other races was six lengths and 4 3/4 lengths.

Richard Dutrow Jr., Sugar Punch's trainer, is very high on the filly, who has been ridden by Edgar Prado in each of her wins.

"In each of her starts, I told [Prado] don't [abuse] her," Dutrow said. "She got the job done, but she wasn't on her belly to do it. She is doing better than ever and starting to show signs of being aggressive in her training. She usually is quiet as a mouse."

Prado rides Sugar Punch from post 6. Sugar Punch, who carries 114 pounds, gets a significant weight advantage from her older rivals.

The biggest threat to Sugar Punch could come from . Fourth in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss here Aug. 6, Cologny has won six of 10 starts this year. Trained by Scott Lake, she has beaten three horses in this field: Beautiful America, A Smart Punch, and Distinctive Kitten. The Saratoga surface might not be Cologny's favorite track; she has lost each of her three starts here.

Robbie Alvarado Jr. rides Cologny, who carries 124 pounds and is the likely pacesetter from post 8.

A win here would put over $500,000 in career earnings.

In her last start, Beautiful America finished third in the Scotzanna Stakes at Belmont behind Cologny and Travelator, who returned to win a stakes at Monmouth.

"She is very sharp right now and I expect her to run well," trainer Ramon Hernandez said.

Distinctive Kitten drops back in with statebreds following some solid efforts in open allowance company.