08/21/2002 11:00PM

Top fillies hoof to hoof in Ballerina

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Raging Fever, one of the top older fillies in the country, and Mandy's Gold, a winner of her last four starts in stakes, including the Honorable Miss here on Aug. 2, meet for the first time since January in Sunday's $250,000 Ballerina Handicap.

Raging Fever was a two-length winner of the Grade 3 First Lady at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18. Mandy's Gold, making her first start off a long layoff, finished third in the First Lady.

Michael Gorham, who trains Mandy's Gold for Steeplechase Farm, said his filly is better now than she was when she faced Raging Fever in January.

"That wasn't an ideal spot coming off a nine-month layoff," Gorham said. "We didn't break well and then we ran up on Raging Fever in the stretch and got tired."

On Sunday, Mandy's Gold worked a half-mile in 47.75 seconds, handily, over the main track. Jockey Edgar Prado was aboard for the work and will ride Mandy's Gold on Sunday.

Raging Fever is the 121-pound highweight of the seven-furlong Ballerina.

Next in the weights is Mandy's Gold at

118 pounds. The other probables are last year's Ballerina winner, Shine Again (116); Cat and the Hat (115); Devastating (115); Nasty Storm (115); Sweet Nanette (115); and Spring Meadow (113).

Castellano thankful for Zito's confidence

Everyone was telling Javier Castellano that he had no shot to ride Quest back in Saturday's Travers Stakes after the horse was disqualified from second and placed last for interference with Iron Deputy in the Jim Dandy. Everyone, that is, except trainer Nick Zito and owners Arthur Hancock and Gerald Healy.

Even with three-time Travers winner Pat Day available, Zito and his owners have opted to keep Castellano, who rode Quest to a pair of allowance victories prior to the Jim Dandy.

"I thought the kid rode a good race to be second in my opinion," Zito said. "The only reason he got days is because [Richard] Migliore fell. Richie was on a horse that was tiring; we all know that.

"When you add up everything this kid is motivated," Zito added. "He'd like to be in a position like [Jerry] Bailey and Pat Day. The only way he's going to do that is to ride in these races and ride well."

Castellano went by Zito's barn this week to personally thank Zito and the owners for keeping him on.

"Everybody told me 'You're off, forget it, you won't ride that horse,' " Castellano said. "I thought about the race and if he keeps me on I'm really appreciative of the owner and of Nick because Nick always had a lot of confidence in me. I try to do the best I can for him."

Castellano said that Quest had never shown signs of lugging in before and deduced something must have been bothering him in the Jim Dandy. Castellano said his best chance of turning the tables on Medaglia d'Oro is for someone to run with him early.

"I don't think my horse has got the speed to do that," Castellano said. "He doesn't come from far behind, but he likes to sit behind the first pack.''

Prado wins four, extends lead over Bailey

Jockey Edgar Prado rode four more winners on Thursday, extending his lead over Jerry Bailey to 40-35 in the battle for leading rider.

It was the third four-win day for Prado in the last four race days. In that span, he is 12 for 24.

Prado went 4 for 5 on Wednesday and came within one-half length of going 5 for 5. After losing the third race on Mythical Brownie, Prado won with his final four mounts. Prado won the fourth with Rose Is a Leader ($2.70), the fifth with Free Expresso ($7), the seventh with Thefull Circle ($7.90), and the nightcap with Oakta Apollo's Gold ($19.20).

Hey - there's a horse by my pool!

Bound on Bi, a 5-year-old old maiden trained by John Hertler, took a wild journey through a residential section of Saratoga Springs Thursday morning.

Bound on Bi was jogging in a field on the Oklahoma backstretch when she stumbled and tossed her exercise rider, Vicente Canizzo, and took off running wildly through the barn area. When Canizzo came off the mare, the bridle slipped over her head.

Bound on Bi ended up exiting the track through an open gate near D. Wayne Lukas's barn and went dashing down Henning Road. She eventually came to a stop about a mile away from Oklahoma on Patricia Lane in John Mangini's backyard.

"I was brushing my teeth when I saw all of these police cars and a NYRA car out on the street," Mangini said. "I went out back and there was this Thoroughbred that had made itself at home at a spot near the swimming pool."

Hertler, who was able to joke about the incident only after finding out Bound on Bi and Canizzo weren't seriously injured, said, "It said 'no diving,' so she didn't jump in."

Bound on Bi had to be treated for numerous cuts all over her body, which she sustained by slipping and falling on the pavement. Canizzo broke a collarbone.

"This is the most unusual thing that has happened to me," Hertler said.

Bound on Bi, who is owned by Tri County Stables, finished third here in her last start on Aug. 11.

Fines likely in dogfight

The former and current owner of a pit bull that got loose and attacked another dog on the backstretch Tuesday will likely face fines from the Backstretch Violations Panel.

Trainer Eric Juvonen, who formerly owned the pit bull, and Frank Wendt, an employee of Brookledge who took over ownership of the pitbull on Monday, are both expected to face the Backstretch Violations Panel, according to NYRA president Terry Meyocks.

"Supposedly, the dog wasn't supposed to be on the grounds," Meyocks said. "We're going to bring them to the panel and make sure the investigators look into it."

The pit bull attacked a Jack Russell owned by Liz Gray, the assistant to trainer Dale Romans. Gray's own dog bit her and Gray needed stitches on her nose and hand. She was back to work on Wednesday.

"I'm fine, I'm okay," Gray said.

Gray said her dog was beat up, but will survive.

- additional reporting by David Grening