03/16/2006 12:00AM

Crystal Current, Stolen Prayer in tough Oaks


OLDSMAR Fla. - The Tampa Bay Derby, the highlight of Saturday's Festival Day card at Tampa Bay Downs, is supported by a trio of solid races, topped by the $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. The 13-race card also includes the Grade 3, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf and the $75,000 Turf Dash at five furlongs.

The Florida Oaks, which produced eventual Grade 2 Delaware Oaks winner R Lady Joy last season, has attracted another strong field, including Crystal Current, a dazzling winner of her 2006 debut in the Suncoast Stakes here, and the Three Ring Stakes winner, Stolen Prayer, who was one of those left in the wake of Wait a While's 14-length romp in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park last time out.

took a bit of time to come around for trainer Bill Mott but left the winless ranks last November at Aqueduct.

Given a bit of a breather, Crystal Current, a daughter of A.P. Indy, trained at Payson Park for her 3-year-old debut. She came off that 10-week break in sharp form, rallying from just off the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Suncoast and pulling away late to win by more than four lengths.

Crystal Current's dam, Dream Supreme, was a top racemare during her career, winning 9 of 15 starts, including six graded stakes and $1,007,679. If Crystal Current's last effort is any indication, she is a filly with a future.

won at first asking at Calder last year, then was fifth in the Fashion at Belmont. Trained by Ed Plesa Jr., she was given a short break, then came back at Calder to win an allowance.

She led to the late stages of the My Dear Girl in her next start before settling for second. She went on to finish second in the Joe O'Farrell, and then scored her first added-money win in the 1 1/16-mile Three Ring Stakes.

In the Davona Dale, Stolen Prayer cut out the pace through a blistering opening six furlongs in 1:09.50, then faded behind Wait a While to be fourth, beaten two heads for second money.

Plesa said, despite what her past performances might indicate, "she's not a speed-crazy filly. She can sit off the pace if the situation warrants."

Rounding out the Oaks field are Bushfire, Sangrita, A.J.'s Coal Bed, Love Boot, Saratoga Drive, Summit Queen, and Taylor Madison.

Hillsborough: Rematch in works

The Hillsborough Stakes will feature a rematch between Laurafina and Amorama, who finished second and third, respectively, behind My Lordship in the Endeavour Stakes on Festival Preview Day.

Laurafina, who won the Frances A. Genter at Calder in her other Florida start this winter, was gaining ground from the outside in the Endeavour but came up a length short.

Amorama looked as those she might have wanted a bit more ground while making her first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon in October.

Others in the Hillsborough worth noting include Joyful Chaos, who makes her first start since finishing fourth behind Film Maker in the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap in December, and Marchonin, an intriguing entrant who ran off a string of four straight wins, including a tally in the restricted Joytotheworld Stakes at Calder, before finishing third in the Suwannee River Handicap that was moved from the turf to the dirt.

* The $75,000 Turf Dash will feature a matchup between Whenthe-doveflies, one of the top female turf sprinters in the country, and undefeated Bucky's Prayer, who will be going after her fifth straight win.