06/21/2002 11:00PM

All roads lead to $100k New Castle


All roads lead to Delaware Park. At least it seems that way, judging by the list of out-of-towners lured to Delaware for Monday's $100,000 New Castle Handicap.

Of the 11 fillies and mares entered in the New Castle, which will be contested at 1 1/8 miles on turf, seven last raced out of state. The remaining four horses have raced at Delaware only once previously this season.

In fact, with trainers such as Christophe Clement and Richard Schosberg saddling contenders, you might think the race was being run in New York.

The Clement-trained Calista should be the favorite, based on her two solid performances in North America since coming over from France. Last fall, Calista came within a head of winning a division of the Grade 3 Pebbles Handicap at Belmont. After a seven-month freshening, Calista returned to win an allowance race in her 4-year-old debut last month, earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. Jose Santos is making the trip down Interstate 95 to ride Calista.

Russian Sweetiepie, trained by Schosberg, will get a chance to prove her runner-up finish to Calista last time out was no fluke. The 5-year-old Russian Sweetiepie has consistently hit the board in allowance races, but ran poorly in her only two previous attempts against stakes company in New Jersey and Florida.

A pair of Florida shippers could be Calista's keenest competition.

Deep closer Jennasietta posted back-to-back Beyers of 94 and 93 when she won stakes in each of her last two starts at Calder, although she needed the intervention of the stewards to be elevated to first place in the second division of the Powder Break Handicap two races ago.

Guillotine, who was cross-entered in an allowance race on Sunday's card, won the slower division of the Power Break on April 26, but broke slowly and was never a threat when she faced Jennasietta a month later.

Among the horses who have the advantage of a race over Delaware's grass course, English-bred filly Morena Park appears most dangerous. She will be making the third start of her current form cycle after good efforts in her first two stakes tries in the United States. Since arriving from Italy, Morena Park's Beyers have steadily improved from 68 to 93.