08/30/2005 12:00AM

Bush has strong one-two punch

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Judy Soda (right) beats Madonna Lily to the wire in the White Carnation at Belmont before being disqualified.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Tom Bush has a strong hand to play in the Saratoga Dew on Thursday at Saratoga.

Bush will saddle two of the leading contenders - Fait Accompli, last year's inaugural Saratoga Dew winner, and Judy Soda, a multiple allowance winner in open company - in the stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares. They will start side by side in posts 7 and 8, respectively, in the nine-horse field going 1 1/8 miles.

Although is the defending champion of this race, Judy Soda is the likely favorite. A late-developing daughter of Personal Flag, she has improved significantly from her 3-year-old to 4-year-old seasons. She has three allowance wins in open company this year, and in her last start, she led wire to wire in the White Carnation on Belmont Stakes Day but was disqualified and placed second for interference with Madonna Lily in the stretch.

regularly makes the lead out of the gate, and in a field devoid of early speed, she should benefit greatly from the pace setup. Edgar Prado will be aboard for the first time Thursday.

"She has certainly shown us that she likes to lay close in her races," Bush said. "Her very best races have all been near the lead, so she figures to be up there."

Fait Accompli's running style couldn't be more different from her stablemate's. A perennial closer, Fait Accompli came from last to win the Saratoga Dew last year. Since winning that race, she has won only once in seven starts. Bush is confident, though, that she will appreciate a return to this racetrack for the first time since that victory.

"I have a lot of confidence in this filly," Bush said of Fait Accompli. "We know she loves Saratoga, and she likes two turns very much. I'm expecting a very good effort from her."

, a multiple stakes winner from the Finger Lakes barn of Ralph D'Alessandro, has the greatest chance to break up the Bush exacta. As a 4-year-old, So Sweet a Cat has yet to duplicate her 3-year-old form, in which she won the $250,000 Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series at Saratoga and the New York Oaks at Finger Lakes. She clearly prefers two-turn races, and with three starts at six furlongs this year, she should appreciate the move to nine furlongs. She will be ridden by John Velazquez.

Completing the field are Buck Mountain, Mother's Sacrifice, J.B.'s Annie, Bundle of Roses, South Wing, and Shady Lane.