06/22/2005 11:00PM

Summerly not without her knocks

Summerly, winning the Kentucky Oaks last out, will face stiff competition from Spun Sugar in Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Ordinarily, when the winners of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan meet for the first time, handicappers would be inclined to give the advantage to the Oaks winner.

But when Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly hooks up with Black-Eyed Susan winner Spun Sugar in Saturday's Grade 1 at Belmont Park, handicappers may want to think twice before giving Summerly the edge. A total of six 3-year-old fillies were entered for the $300,000 Mother Goose, a one-turn race run at 1 1/8 miles.

In addition to Summerly and Spun Sugar, the Mother Goose drew Acorn runner-up Smuggler, Nassau County winner Seeking the Ante, and recent allowance winners Winning Season and Lady Pegasus.

Since winning a slowly run Oaks, Summerly missed six days of training and was limited in what she could do on other days because of a quarantine situation facing trainer Steve Asmussen's Churchill Downs barn.

"There's no way she's as tight as she was for the Oaks, but the other side of that is you're coming out of the hardest race you've ever run, so you're not worried about fitness," said Asmussen. "She's just not as sharp as she would be."

With the exception of the Ashland, Summerly has been sharp every time she has run this year. She won three straight races at Fair Grounds, including the Fair Grounds Oaks, before getting soundly beaten by Sis City in the Ashland. In the Kentucky Oaks, Summerly outfooted Sis City early and got away with moderate fractions en route to a two-length score.

"Of course she's better if she can control things. Any horse is," Asmussen said. "She's got a beautiful rhythm. That is her strength. She can go 12-and-change [seconds for a furlong] a long ways. She's a big mare on a big track. Belmont should suit her."

Asmussen shipped Summerly to New York in time to get a workout over the track. On Tuesday, Summerly breezed four furlongs in 47.43 seconds, the fastest of 41 moves at the distance over the main track. Jerry Bailey, 2 for 2 aboard Summerly, rides from post 6.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he thought Spun Sugar was talented enough to run in the Oaks, but her schedule was such that Pletcher felt he would have been rushing her to make it. Instead, after winning an entry-level allowance at Keeneland in April, Spun Sugar was pointed to the Black-Eyed Susan, a race she won by 3 3/4 lengths over a sloppy track.

"Her Black-Eyed Susan stacks up against a lot of the better 3-year-old filly races that have been run this year," said Pletcher, who won this race in 1998 with Jersey Girl and finished second last year with Ashado. "And I think a one-turn mile and an eighth will suit her fine."

Spun Sugar could fall into a nice trip, since Summerly, Winning Season, and Lady Pegasus - if she runs - all like to be forwardly placed. Spun Sugar will break from post 3 under Javier Castellano.

"Our filly has enough tactical speed that, if there is no one in there to go with Summerly, then we'll go with her," Pletcher said.

The Mother Goose is one of the few New York Grade 1 races trainer Shug McGaughey has yet to win. He sends out Smuggler, who finished second to Round Pond in the Grade 1 Acorn. As a daughter of Unbridled out of the mare Inside Information, Smuggler should appreciate the added distance.

"We're still kind of looking to see if we belong or not," McGaughey said. "But off her Acorn, where she laid a little close to a hot pace, the way she's bred, she ought to get the distance without a problem."

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won this race six times, including last year with Stellar Jayne. His entrant, Winning Season, will be a longshot, but she does get the white-hot Eibar Coa.

The field

Mother Goose
Purse: $300,000; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

1Seeking the AnteM. Luzzi15-1
2SmugglerE. Prado3-1
3Spun SugarJ. Castellano2-1
4Winning SeasonE. Coa20-1
5Lady PegasusR. Migliore12-1
6SummerlyJ. Bailey1-1

* All starters carry 121 pounds
* Odds by Dan Illman