07/01/2003 12:00AM

Competition much softer for Pieria


ELMONT, N.Y. - Pieria had the misfortune of facing Mariensky in her last start May 4 at Aqueduct. Pieria finished second in that allowance race, beaten two lengths by Mariensky, who then scored back-to-back stakes victories.

Pieria won't meet the likes of Mariensky in Thursday's feature at Belmont Park, a second-level allowance race for fillies and mares on the Widener turf. Her biggest threat might be entrymate Float and Sting.

The Bill Mott-trained entry of Pieria and Float and Sting likely will be favored among the eight horses entered in the main body of the one-mile race, which has a $48,000 purse. Five horses are designated main-track only. Showers are in the forecast for Thursday.

Pieria, owned by Hickory Tree Stable, is 2 for 4 on the turf. Last year, the daughter of Atticus won a maiden race over Belmont's inner turf course in her grass debut. After a fourth-place finish as the favorite in her next start, Pieria was sent to the sidelines. She returned to the races in February and easily won a mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Mike Luzzi rides Pieria, who drew post 7.

Jerry Bailey, who has ridden both Pieria and Float and Sting, sticks with Float and Sting, perhaps an indication she is the stronger half of the Mott entry.

Float and Sting jumped a condition in her last start and finished seventh from post 12 in a seven-furlong race. Her last win came in October when she controlled the pace of a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Belmont.

Faraway Legend, co-owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, was up in time to win her last start by a nose as the favorite April 30 at Aqueduct. Last year at Belmont, Faraway Legend caught handicappers by surprise when she won a maiden race in her grass debut and paid $63. The odds won't be nearly as generous Thursday on Faraway Legend, who is trained by Jim Toner.

Richard Migliore rides Faraway Legend from post 4.

It's been more than a year since Sonata Cosmos has won, but she has come close to winning on several occasions and figures to be a good price. Jockey Javier Castellano replaces Norberto Arroyo Jr., who is recovering from an injury.

Glorious Jenna is the one to beat if the race is run on the main track and it is wet. She makes her first start off a claim for Pat Reynolds, who is a high-percentage trainer with horses making their first starts off the claim.