01/29/2008 12:00AM

Contessa pair, or Philly invaders - who's best?


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Where have the best Northeastern 3-year-old filly sprinters been running this winter - at Aqueduct or Philadelphia Park? That question may be answered to some degree in Thursday's $65,000 T Storm, a six-furlong overnight stakes with a field of six that is book-ended by the Gary Contessa-trained pair of Dill Or No Dill on the rail and I Promise on the outside.

Drawn between Contessa's two fillies are Carolyn's Cat, a $650,000 Saratoga yearling buy who gave futile chase to Dill Or No Dill when second in the recent Ruthless Stakes; Becalm and Rising Glory, who are stabled at Philadelphia Park; and Darling Monique, a locally based filly who comes off an allowance win at that slots-fueled track for Todd Pletcher

Dill Or No Dill and I Promise each come off an impressive victory, but according to Contessa, I Promise may not run. A New York-bred allowance winner when returning from a layoff two weeks ago, I Promise may await the Dearly Precious Stakes on Feb. 17.

"I Promise won as easy as a horse can win the other day, but I'm leaning toward scratching her and going with Dill Or No Dill," said Contessa. "I think 'Dill' is really good for this race."

It's hard to imagine the speedy Dill Or No Dill could be much better than she was in the Ruthless Stakes, when she and Ramon Dominguez left Carolyn's Cat five lengths behind, and she earned a new top Beyer Speed Figure of 90 - a tremendous improvement from her runner-up finish in the Xtra Heat a month earlier.

"She's that good," said Contessa. "We bought her because she's that good. I told Ramon, 'Take a hold of her and let her take you to the lead,' which was a little different from the time before.

"Some horses don't like to be hard-ridden, so we let her use her natural speed to get there."

Rising Glory was unveiled in mid-November, and is developing rapidly for trainer John Servis. She improved on the Beyer scale by 19 points for a maiden win second time out, and moved forward another 15 points in her third and final start at 2. She was beaten a neck in that race by stablemate Outside Lane, who is bound for an upcoming Maryland-bred stakes at Laurel.

"She's improving with every race and we're kind of excited about it," said Servis. "She worked very good the other day, and this is a good test to see if she's getting as good as we think she is."