08/28/2002 11:00PM

Dade favorites arrive at Ellis via Delaware


Surely it has been a while since two horses with recent form at Delaware Park were the favorites in a stakes race at Ellis Park. But that's a plausible scenario Saturday at the Henderson, Ky., track, where a full field of fillies and mares will clash in the $60,000 Dade Turf Classic.

Sitka, who raced most recently in the Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware, and De Aar, who ran in two stakes there this summer, rank among the top contenders in the Dade Classic, a 1 1/8-mile grass race. Although both mares have won just once this year, they have kept tougher company than what they will face Saturday.

Sitka, trained by Dale Romans, is a Dynaformer mare capable of unloading a sensational stretch kick under the right conditions. A winner of five races and nearly $300,000, Sitka has run in six straight stakes worth $100,000 or more, so Saturday's race figures to be a class break for her.

De Aar, trained by Michael Dickinson at Tapeta Farm in rural northeast Maryland, is a Gone West mare who also packs a strong late punch. An impressive victory in March at the Fair Grounds suggested De Aar might be in for a terrific year, but she has lost in five subsequent races, all but one a stakes.

If neither of the Delaware returnees will do, then the Dade Classic could result in a minor upset by Kiss the Devil, who has come to hand recently for trainer Dave Vance, or Grey Ballet, whose trainer, Steve Flint, has had a great summer here.

Saturday is the 39th of 41 cards this summer at Ellis, which closes Monday with the $75,000 Tri-State Handicap.