08/10/2006 11:00PM

Amandatude tops Oaks


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Tim Ritchey hopes Amandatude will continue her improvement Sunday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

"She's gotten better with every start and I think the best is still ahead of her," Ritchey said.

Amandatude faces five rivals in the 82nd running of the 1 1/16-mile race, and all six filies are seeking their first graded stakes victory.

The Monmouth Oaks field includes four fillies from the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks on July 15. Amandatude ran second behind Todd Pletcher's Grade 1 winner Adieu. Gasia was third, with Peak Maria's Way fourth, and Last Romance sixth.

In the Delaware Oaks, Amandatude made a strong run on the rail to grab the lead in deep stretch with Jeremy Rose aboard. The effort earned her a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

"She ran very well," Ritchey said. "She was a little wide on the first turn. Jeremy did a good job when he dropped to the inside. She was just outrun by a little better horse that day."

Amandatude holds the experience edge in the Monmouth Oaks. This will be her 14th start, and 10th this season.

"We've spaced her races," Ritchey said. "We gave her a little bit of a freshener after Gulfstream Park. We've picked our spots with her."

Amandatude, winner of the Polly's Jet Stakes at Delaware Park in May, will make her first start outside Florida or Delaware.

"I think she'll run on any type of racetrack," Ritchey said. "She's an easygoing kind of filly, so I don't think shipping will be any kind of issue."

Joe Bravo, Monmouth's leading rider, will be aboard for the first time. Bravo had a huge day last Sunday with five wins and three seconds.

"Joe knows the track," Ritchey said. "He's a very high-percent rider. We're fortunate to have him ride for us."

Amandatude should be sharp following a bullet work of 46.60 seconds for four furlongs at Delaware Park on Aug. 6.

"She came out of the last race very good," Ritchey said. "Her breeze the other day was everything we wanted. I expect her to run another good race."

The Pletcher-trained Love Locket has the home-track advantage as the only Monmouth-based runner. She won the Monmouth Oaks prep, the Serena's Song Stakes, on July 22.

"We would have liked a little more time between races," Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher's assistant trainer. "She has been training well and she loves this track."

Love Locket will be joined by stablemate Mo Cuishle. They race uncoupled.