07/20/2005 11:00PM

Three-way rivalry continues in Oaks


ELMONT, N.Y. - Two and a quarter lengths separated Smuggler, Spun Sugar, and Summerly at the finish of the Grade 1 Mother Goose, a 1 1/8-mile race on June 25. On Saturday at Belmont, all three will be back, but they will have to get another furlong in the Grade 1, $500,000 .

Nine 3-year-old fillies entered the CCA Oaks. Also entered are For All We Know, Pleasant Chimes, Capitulation, Seeking the Ante, Bayou Breeze, and Atlas Valley. Bayou Breeze and Spun Sugar are coupled in the wagering.

So far stamina hasn't been an issue for Smuggler, Spun Sugar, or Summerly, who are all bred to go a distance and have won graded stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Smuggler won the Mother Goose by a neck over Spun Sugar, who finished two lengths in front of the favorite, Summerly.

Summerly might have had an excuse in that race, her first since winning the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. After the Oaks, Summerly missed some training because of a quarantine situation at Churchill.

"She probably needed the race, and we look for her to move forward from the effort," said Toby Sheets, an assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.

Summerly, who has early speed, will have Jerry Bailey in the irons and break from post 6.

Spun Sugar, the Black-Eyed Susan winner, attempted a left turn leaving the chute in the Mother Goose and then set the pace under pressure.

"If that hadn't happened, we might have gotten a better position instead of having to hustle and getting stuck inside," said trainer Todd Pletcher.

Smuggler was bothered when Spun Sugar came in after the break in the Mother Goose and nearly clipped heels with her. Smuggler recovered and relaxed down the backstretch before hooking Spun Sugar in the stretch.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said he likes that Smuggler is versatile.

"I didn't know she had it in her to chase a fast pace," McGaughey said, referring to Smuggler's effort in the Acorn on June 4, when she finished second. Edgar Prado rides from post 3.

For All We Know, undefeated in three starts, makes her stakes debut and first start beyond a mile. "A race like this is usually won by a horse on the lead or a horse that waits," said trainer John Ward. "I would rather a play a patient game."