03/12/2008 11:00PM

Battle looms from the get-go in Cicada

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There are only six fillies - and five betting interests - in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct, but handicappers may be hard-pressed to separate the compact group of 3-year-old fillies.

Trainer Gary Contessa is sending out three of the six, including the coupled entry of Ready for Fortune and True Intentions, the first- and third-place finishers from last month's Dearly Precious Stakes. But it is Contessa's other entrant, Dill or No Dill, who could hold the key to the race.

Dill or No Dill and Carolyn's Cat have traded decisions in their last two starts. Dill or No Dill beat Carolyn's Cat in gate-to-wire fashion in the Ruthless on Jan. 6, while Carolyn's Cat returned the favor in the T-Storm Stakes on Jan. 31. In the T-Storm, Carolyn's Cat beat the gate and opened up a length almost immediately. Ramon Dominguez, aboard Dill or No Dill, was content to let Carolyn's Cat have the lead, and couldn't catch Carolyn's Cat down the lane.

Contessa said Dill or No Dill won't let Carolyn's Cat have the lead Saturday.

"Dill or No Dill will be in front of her in this race or die trying," said Contessa, whose filly drew post 6.

Art Magnuson, who will saddle Carolyn's Cat for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, believes his filly will be in front.

"No change in strategy," said Magnuson, whose filly drew post 5. "Dill or No Dill is a nice filly, but we're not afraid to start."

If those two go at each other early, that could aid Ready for Fortune. In the Dearly Precious, Ready for Fortune got carried out at the break by Mikeslittlegirl and was further back than Contessa planned. But she ran down Armonk for a neck victory. Armonk came back to win the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel Park.

"Her best game is to sit on her and let her run her race," Contessa said of Ready for Fortune, who will break from post 2 under Mario Pino.

Ready for Fortune is owned by Dennis Narlinger, as is True Intentions, who finished third in the Dearly Precious, her first start in a year.

"She's a filly that's got the whole world ahead of her. She's really a good filly, a talented filly, and I expect her to move way forward with that race under her belt," Contessa said.

Throbbin' Heart beat Dill or No Dill in the Xtra Heat Stakes and also has won in the mud, which may be a factor Saturday. Psycho DJ, fourth in the Ruthless, was a late addition to the field.