12/15/2005 12:00AM

Test of stamina for Bohemian Lady


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - has the class and the speed to be the controlling factor Saturday in the $75,000 added Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct.

In the end, stamina will decide the 1 1/4-mile race over the inner track.

The Ladies Handicap, the oldest stakes on the New York calendar for fillies and mares, tops a 10-race card that gets under way at 12:10 p.m.

The Ladies Handicap drew 10 runners for its 135th running, and most trainers will be hoping for the best at the 10-furlong distance.

Bohemian Lady, a 4-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, has been effective this year at shorter distances. She scored allowance wins at one mile at Churchill Downs and 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga.

Bohemian Lady hit the board twice this season in one-mile Grade 2 handicaps: a third in the Shuvee at Belmont Park and a second, by a half-length, to Stellar Jayne most recently in Aqueduct's Top Flight over Thanksgiving weekend.

Those efforts earned her top weight in the field at 118 pounds for her first try at 1 1/4 miles.

"It's going to be a question to see how she does at that kind of distance," said Seth Benzel, an assistant to Pletcher. "She'll have to answer that, but, at the same time, being able to assume the lead and dictate the pace will be to her advantage.

"She's always made good use of her speed. I wouldn't see a change in tactics at this point."

Jose Santos will have the job of moderating Bohemian Lady's fractions. Santos has won this race twice before, with Dance Teacher in 1989 and Colonial Waters in 1990.

"Maybe she'll be able to slow things down and put them to sleep a little bit to have more for the finish," Benzel said. "The key is going to be setting the fractions and not being contested the whole way."

Nobody near the pace caught a breather in the 1 1/8-mile Real Prize Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 27.

Strategy, normally a stalker from Shug McGaughey's barn, wound up on a pressured lead with Taittinger Rose alongside every step and Freeroll never more than one length behind the dueling leaders.

It wound up a blanket finish. Strategy dug in to beat Freeroll by a head, with Taittinger Rose another head back in third.

All three return for the Ladies Handicap.

The win was an encouraging effort for Strategy in her first stakes victory.

"It was a good race and a different race than what she's used to running," said assistant trainer Buzz Tenney. "She showed a lot of heart. I think she's coming up to this in very good order."

Fleet Indian was also a stakes winner last time, beating New York-breds in Aqueduct's Montauk Handicap.

Completing the field are After the Tone, a stablemate of Freeroll from the Mark Hennig barn who will race as a separate betting interest, Awesome Powers, India Halo, Silent Siren, and Sniffles.