06/19/2006 12:00AM

Win McCool faces key prep


ELMONT, N.Y. - The summer's two biggest races for 3 year-old filly sprinters are the Prioress Breeders' Cup (July 8) and the Test (Aug. 5), each worth $250,000 and a Grade 1 title.

Based on what she showed in the Grade 2 Nassau County Breeders' Cup last time out, Win McCool could wind up the one to catch in either or both of those races, so her return from a short layoff in Wednesday's eighth race is a crucial stepping-stone back to the big time. A field of eight was entered in the first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs. Win McCool drew post 3 and will be ridden by Richard Migliore.

was the fifth choice in a field of six in the Nassau County, but she nearly pulled off the upset after setting a blistering pace. She shook loose early, arrived in midstretch with a clear lead after six furlongs in a sizzling 1:09, but was run down in the final strides by Hello Liberty.

"She got a little leg-weary from running so fast," said trainer Bobby Barbara.

Hello Liberty was the longest shot on the tote board that day, but she stamped her legitimacy by coming back to run a close second in the Acorn Stakes after a ding-dong stretch battle.

Meanwhile, Win McCool will be running Wednesday after a 46-day layoff. She was entered in an allowance sprint on June 4, but was scratched when she got sick.

"She started sniffling and coughing," said Barbara. "Now our backs are up against the wall. Hopefully she runs a good race and we keep the plan intact. We're hoping for a nice comfortable race, and to be able to come back in the Prioress."

Barbara trained Win McCool's dam, the stakes-winning sprinter Win Crafty Lady, who has already produced three stakes winners, including Graeme Hall, winner of the Arkansas Derby and Jim Dandy, and Harmony Lodge, winner of the Ballerina.

, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, is also returning from a layoff, after showing good early speed in the first three starts of her career earlier this year. She was a lengthy maiden winner on Aqueduct's inner track, and in her only subsequent start was involved in a speed duel in an overnight stakes in mid-April. Drawn on the rail with Eibar Coa, All Bets Down will have to run hard from the opening bell.