05/05/2005 12:00AM

Comp USA: Ticker Tape returns

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Ticker Tape, a finalist for the Eclipse Award in the filly and mare turf division as a 3-year-old, begins her 4-year-old campaign Saturday in a competitive running of the $100,000 Comp USA Turf Mile.

, a British-bred daughter of Royal Applause, won 5 of 10 starts last year, including the American Oaks at Hollywood Park and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland. In her lone start against older mares, she was beaten two lengths by Intercontinental in the Grade 1 Matriarch last Nov. 28, her last start.

"I think she got too far back in the Matriarch," trainer James Cassidy said. "Also, Intercontinental could be the freak of all freaks."

Cassidy, who is struggling at 1 for 30 this year, said Ticker Tape wintered at Cash Asmussen's farm in Texas and joined his stable only a month ago. She has worked four times, according to Cassidy, who is hoping to use this race as a prep for the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 30.

If Warning Zone's North American debut was a true indicator, she may be the horse to beat in the Grade 3 Comp USA. After winning 4 of 7 starts in her native South Africa, Warning Zone unleashed a strong kick to win the Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 12.

"That was a big race for the first time in the country," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She's got tactical speed, she can sit just off of horses, and has a good strong kick to go with it. She's trained very well for us.''

Last year, when this race was known as Argent Mortgage Distaff Turf Mile, Shaconage, at 19-1, upset the odds-on favorite, Etoile Montante. Shaconage also won the Locust Grove over this course. She has finished third in both of her starts this year, which came in an 11-day span at Gulfstream Park in March.

Mambo Slew, who won a couple of stakes last year, gets blinkers and Lasix for the first time. Boasting makes her graded stakes debut for Bobby Frankel. Sand Springs, trained by Bill Mott, may be the one to catch.