03/17/2011 3:19PM

Aqueduct: Cicada will tell Dutrow whether Quantum Miss is as good as he believes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Tony Dutrow isn’t going to let one bad performance by Quantum Miss dispel his notion that the 3-year-old filly is of graded stakes caliber. By sunset Saturday, Dutrow will know if he has to amend his theory.

Quantum Miss, who finished fifth as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream nine weeks ago, makes her first start since then in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada Stakes going six furlongs over Aqueduct’s inner track. The seven-horse field includes stakes winners Coax Liberty and Full Moon Blues.

Last Nov. 24, at Penn National, Quantum Miss won a stakes for Pennsylvania-breds by 16 lengths, showing good early speed and running six furlongs in 1:09.78 while earning a gaudy Beyer Speed Figure of 94. On Jan. 5, at Gulfstream, Quantum Miss bobbled at the start then bumped with the horse to her outside. She raced wide throughout and made a bid for the lead, but was basically finished by the quarter pole.

“I’d only be guessing at what went awry in Florida,’’ said Dutrow, not willing to use the bad start as an excuse. “Her performance was very poor. So we freshened her up and give her another chance in another kind of good race. She’s led us to believe she can run in this kind of race. Reality will set in Saturday night one way or another.”

Following the Old Hat, Dutrow shipped Quantum Miss to Oaklawn – where Dutrow has his top horses – before sending her to Parx Racing, where she shows two solid works leading to this.

“I’m feeling very good about her,’’ Dutrow said. “If she doesn’t run well, she lacks the class.’’

Coax Liberty shipped from Maryland to New York last month to win the Dearly Precious Stakes by two lengths for trainer James Lawrence. This field looks a bit tougher, but Lawrence is happy with how his filly has done since the Dearly Precious and likes the outside post draw.

“It gives us a chance to get a good position and see how everything shakes out that first quarter-mile,’’ Lawrence said. “She’s trained beautifully up to the race.’’

Jockey David Cohen, who rode Coax Liberty in the Dearly Precious, jumps to Dream, another Maryland-based filly who has gone 2 for 2 but steps into stakes company for the first time.

In Step, a $1 million daughter of Unbridled’s Song, ships up from Florida off a half-length maiden win at Gulfstream. Roman Treasure, who improved immensely with the addition of blinkers, and Wild About Sonny complete the field.