07/20/2001 12:00AM

Above Perfection takes a steep plunge


DEL MAR, Calif. - The behavior of Above Perfection in the two weeks since she finished second in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park has nearly convinced trainer Darrell Vienna to start her in Sunday's $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar.

Restricted to California-bred 3-year-old fillies who have not won a first-place purse of $50,000 twice, the Fleet Treat is substantial drop in class for Above Perfection.

A winner of three of four starts, she was beaten a neck by Xtra Heat in the Prioress after setting a fast pace.

"The only thing that gives me pause is she's coming back quick, but she's doing great," Vienna said. "It will only be our preconception that limits us. It's like she didn't run."

Above Perfection drew the rail in the seven-furlong Fleet Treat and faces seven others, including Angel Angelique and the Bob Baffert-trained Lighten Up Tiny, both of whom are undefeated and making their stakes debuts.

"You don't get too many opportunities like this, but it's not a walkover," Vienna said. "You have that filly of Baffert's that looks like seven-eighths will suit her to a tee."

Lighten Up Tiny is likely to be the second betting choice.

A maiden winner on California Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park in April, she won an allowance race with a remarkable turn of foot on May 30. In that race over seven furlongs, she closed nine lengths in the final three furlongs.

Lighten Up Tiny will be helped by a fast pace. Above Perfection has the ability to lead as does Exquisite Woman and Vida Dancer, who have placed in stakes for California-bred fillies at Bay Meadows. Exquisite Woman was beaten a nose by Channing Way in the Miss California Stakes on May 27. Vida Dancer has not started since last October.

Vienna would prefer Above Perfection takes a stalking role.

"I don't think she's a front-runner and I don't look at her that way," Vienna said. "Hopefully we'll be following someone else."