07/05/2004 12:00AM

Wonder Again starts anew


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Jimmy Toner would like to remove Wonder Again's 2003 campaign from his memory. A performance like the one Wonder Again gave in Monday's Grade 2 New York Handicap should help him do just that.

Wonder Again displayed the class and talent Monday that she showed two years ago as a 3-year-old when she cruised past the pacesetting Binya turning for home and drew off for a 3 1/4-length victory in the $250,000 New York before 8,713 at Belmont Park.

Stay Forever won a stretch duel with Spice Island by a nose for second and withstood a claim of foul by Spice Island's jockey, Jerry Bailey, alleging interference in the stretch. Humaita, Binya, Alchemist, and Potra Fabulous completed the order of finish. Trainer Christophe Clement scratched Meridiana because of the soft turf condition.

Edgar Prado rode Wonder Again, capping off a four-win day and a 16-win week, which included three stakes.

The victory was just the second for Wonder Again since her 3-year-old year, when she won four in a row, highlighted by the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont. Last year, Wonder Again went just 1 for 6 in what Toner described as "a screwy year."

"Last year, things didn't go right; we gave her the time and brought her back," said Toner, who trains Wonder Again for John and Joan Phillips. "I think we got a good race into her the last time. She came into the race great, she handled the ground especially well. Basically, I think she's back to where she was."

As Binya, under John Velazquez, set a moderate pace of 1:15.10 for six furlongs, Prado had Wonder Again stalking from the inside with Potra Fabulous to her outside. When Potra Fabulous faded around the far turn, Wonder Again took command in upper stretch. Wonder Again, a 5-year-old daughter of Silver Hawk, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:05.06 and returned $9.90.

"She's a very nervous filly in the morning, and I think everything has to go her way," Prado said. "Today, she had a beautiful trip, plus she loves the soft ground."

Wonder Again will point to the Grade 1 Diana Handicap at Saratoga on July 31.