04/30/2003 11:00PM

Withers, Beaugay a formidable double feature


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Nothing can steal the show from Saturday's Kentucky Derby, but there are two very good stakes at Aqueduct on Derby Day.

The $150,000 Withers for 3-year-olds features graded stakes winners Halo Homewrecker, New York Hero, and Alysweep. The $100,000 Beaugay Handicap is the first race of the year for Voodoo Dancer, Wonder Again, and Owsley, among the top female grass runners in 2002.

Halo Homewrecker, who has shown plenty of promise in a short amount of time, is the likely favorite in his first start at a mile in the Grade 3 Withers.

Rain is in the forecast, but that shouldn't hurt Halo Homewrecker, who won the Grade 3 Bay Shore over a muddy track on April 12. The seven-furlong Bay Shore was Halo Homewrecker's stakes debut and followed wins in a maiden race and an allowance race at Gulfstream.

Halo Homewrecker set a strong pace in his first career win. In the Bay Shore, he was positioned near the early leaders.

"Initially, we wanted to get him to settle quite a bit in the Bay Shore, but the way the track was playing we used some of his speed," said Mark Hennig, Halo Homewrecker's trainer. "He also can lay back."

John Velazquez rides Halo Homewrecker.

The speedy Don Six, also entered in Saturday's Francis "Jock" LaBelle at Delaware Park, set a swift pace in the Bay Shore and finished a courageous second, beaten a length by Halo Homewrecker.

Alysweep controlled the pace to win the two-turn Gotham over Aqueduct's inner track on March 16. Three weeks later in the Illinois Derby, he finished seventh after pressing the pace. One of Alysweep's best races came at six furlongs when he stalked the early leaders and won the Fred Capossela on Jan. 20.

"Maybe we shouldn't have tried to reinvent his style with two turns," said Pat Reynolds, Alysweep's trainer. "Maybe we have a crack miler."

Richard Migliore rides Alysweep.

New York Hero, who won the Grade 2 Lane's End at Turfway in March, has raced around two turns in his last three starts. Trained by Jennifer Pedersen, New York Hero set the pace for six furlongs in the Wood Memorial before tiring and finishing fourth. He came out of the race with a quarter crack and missed four days of training, but he worked sharply at Aqueduct on Tuesday.

Javier Castellano will replace Norberto Arroyo Jr. in the saddle.

Pedersen said New York Hero didn't handle the track in the Wood, which was run in the mud. She said New York Hero might be scratched if the track is wet and sealed for the Withers.

Atfirst Blush, Awesome Time, Spite the Devil, and Stanislavsky also were entered.

Voodoo Dancer goes for repeat

Last year, Voodoo Dancer won the Grade 3 Beaugay in her first start of the season. On Saturday, Voodoo Dancer is the one to beat as she tries to become the first back-to-back Beaugay winner.

Voodoo Dancer is the 120-pound highweight. She has not raced since she finished second in the Grade 2 Las Palmas at Santa Anita in November.

"She's been working very well and is ready to run," said Christophe Clement, Voodoo Dancer's trainer.

Jean-Luc Samyn rides Voodoo Dancer in the 1 1/16-mile Beaugay.

Voodoo Dancer has a couple of formidable opponents in Wonder Again and Owsley.

Wonder Again, racing as a 3-year-old last year, won the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont in September. She hasn't raced since finishing fifth in the Queen Elizabeth at Keeneland on Oct. 12.

"She's tight," said Jimmy Toner, Wonder Again's trainer. "I don't think she should need a race. The question is the competition. It's a very good race."

Owsley probably prefers more distance, but she did win a mile allowance race on the turf at Aqueduct last year. She also won three stakes last year. Owsley won't mind a rain-softened course.